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Title: Theodoric the Goth
       Barbarian Champion of Civilisation

Author: Thomas Hodgkin

Release Date: December 9, 2006 [EBook #20063]

Language: English

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                            HEROES OF THE NATIONS

                                  EDITED BY

                             EVELYN ABBOTT, M.A.
                     FELLOW OF BALLIOL COLLEGE, OXFORD


                       FACTA CUCIS VIVENT OPEROSAQUE
                    GLORIA RERUM--OVID, IN LIVIAM, 255

                       THE HERO'S DEEDS AND HARD-WON
                               FAME SHALL LIVE





[Illustration]

                             THEODORIC THE GOTH

                  THE BARBARIAN CHAMPION OF CIVILISATION


                         BY THOMAS HODGKIN, D.C.L.

             FELLOW OF UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON; AUTHOR OF
            "ITALY AND HER INVADERS, A.D. 376-553", ETC., ETC.




G.P. PUTNAM'S SONS
NEW YORK.

27 W. TWENTY-THIRD STREET
LONDON.

24 BEDFORD STREET, STRAND
THE KNICKERBOCKER PRESS.

1897

COPYRIGHT, 1891, BY

Entered at Stationers' Hall, London
By G. P. Putnam's Sons.

Electrotyped, Printed, and Bound by
The Knickerbocker Press, New York
G.P. Putnam's Sons.

[Illustration]




                              PREFACE


In the following pages I have endeavoured to portray the life and
character of one of the most striking figures in the history of the
Early Middle Ages, Theodoric the Ostrogoth. The plan of the series, for
which this volume has been prepared, does not admit of minute discussion
of the authorities on which the history rests. In my case the omission
is of the less consequence, as I have treated the subject more fully in
my larger work, "Italy and her Invaders", and as also the chief
authorities are fully enumerated in that book which is or ought to be in
the library of every educated Englishman and American, Gibbon's "History
of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire".

The fifth and sixth centuries do not supply us with many materials for
pictorial illustrations, and I do not know where to look for authentic
and contemporary representations of the civil or military life of
Theodoric and his subjects. We have, however, a large and interesting
store of nearly contemporary works of art at Ravenna, illustrating the
ecclesiastical life of the period, and of these the engraver has made
considerable use. The statue of Theodoric at Innsbruck, a representation
of which is included with the illustrations, possesses, of course, no
historical value, but is interesting as showing how deeply the memory of
Theodoric's great deeds had impressed itself on the mind of the Middle
Ages.

And here I will venture on a word of personal reminiscence. The figure
of Theodoric the Ostrogoth has been an interesting and attractive one to
me from the days of my boyhood. I well remember walking with a friend on
a little hill (then silent and lonely, now covered with houses), looking
down on London, and discussing European politics with the earnest
interest which young debaters bring to such a theme. The time was in
those dark days which followed the revolutions of 1848, when it seemed
as if the life of the European nations would be crushed out under the
heel of returned and triumphant despotism. For Italy especially, after
the defeat of Novara, there seemed no hope. We talked of Mazzini,
Cavour, Garibaldi, and discussed the possibility--which then seemed so
infinitely remote--that there might one day be a free and united Italy.
We both agreed that the vision was a beautiful one, but was there any
hope of it ever becoming a reality? My friend thought there was not, and
argued from the fact of Italy's divided condition in the past, that she
must always be divided in the future. I, who was on the side of hope,
felt the weakness of my position, and was driven backward through the
centuries, till at length I took refuge in the reign of Theodoric.
Surely, under the Ostrogothic king, Italy had been united, strong, and
prosperous. My precedent was a remote one, but it was admitted, and it
did a little help my cause.

Since that conversation more than forty years have passed. The beautiful
land is now united, free, and mighty; and a new generation has arisen,
which, though aware of the fact that she was not always thus, has but a
faint conception how much blood and how many tears, what thousands of
broken hearts and broken lives went to the winning of Italy's freedom.
I, too, with fuller knowledge of her early history, am bound to confess
that her unity even under Theodoric was not so complete as I then
imagined it. But still, as I have more than once stated in the following
pages, I look upon his reign as a time full of seeds of promise for
Italy and the world, if only these seeds might have had time to
germinate and ripen into harvest. Closer study has only confirmed me in
the opinion that the Ostrogothic kingdom was one of the great
"Might-have-beens" of History.

THOMAS HODGKIN.

NEWCASTLE-ON-TYNE,
January 25, 1891.




                               CONTENTS.


INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER I.

THEODORIC'S ANCESTORS

Ostrogoths and Visigoths--Nations forming the Gothic Confederacy--Royal
family of the Amals--Gothic invasion in the Second Century--Hermanic the
Ostrogoth--Inroad of the Huns--Defeat of the Ostrogoths--Defeat of the
Visigoths--The Visigoths within the Empire--Battle of Adrianople--Alaric
in Rome.

CHAPTER II.

THE MIGHT OF ATTILA

The Ostrogoths under the Huns--The three royal brothers--Attila, king of
the Huns--He menaces the Eastern Empire--He strikes at Gaul--Battle of
the Catalaunian plains--Invasion of Italy--Destruction of Aquileia--Death
of Attila and disruption of his Empire--Settlement of the Ostrogoths in
Pannonia.

CHAPTER III.

THEODORIC'S BOYHOOD

Inroad of the Huns--Their defeat by Walamir--Birth of Theodoric--War
with the Eastern Empire--Theodoric a hostage--Description of
Constantinople--Its commerce and its monuments.

CHAPTER IV.

THE SOUTHWARD MIGRATION

Struggles with the Swabians, Sarmatians, Scyri, and Huns--Death of
Walamir--Theudemir becomes king--Theodoric defeats Babai--The Teutonic
custom of the Comitatus--An Ostrogothic Folc-mote--Theudemir invades the
Eastern Empire--Macedonian settlement of the Ostrogoths.

CHAPTER V.

STORM AND STRESS

Death of Theudemir, and accession of Theodoric--Leo the Butcher--The
Emperor Zeno--The march of Theodoric against the son of Triarius--His
invasion of Macedonia--Defeat of his rear-guard--His compact with the
Emperor.

CHAPTER VI.

ITALY UNDER ODOVACAR

Condition of Italy--End of the line of Theodosius--Ricimer the
Patrician--Struggles with the Vandals--Orestes the Patrician makes his
son Emperor, who is called Augustulus--The fall of the Western Empire
and elevation of Odovacar--Embassies to Constantinople.

CHAPTER VII.

THE CONQUEST OF ITALY

Odovacar invades Dalmatia--Conducts a successful campaign against the
Rugians--Theodoric accepts from Zeno the commission to overthrow
Odovacar--He invades Italy, overthrowing the Gepidæ, who attempt to bar
his passage--Battles of the Isonzo and Verona--Odovacar takes refuge in
Ravenna--The treachery of Tufa--Gundobad, king of the Burgundians, comes
to Italy to oppose Theodoric, while Alaric II, king of the Visigoths,
comes as his ally--The battle of the Adda, and further defeat of
Odovacar--Surrender of Ravenna--Assassination of Odovacar.

CHAPTER VIII.

CIVILITAS

Transformation in the character of Theodoric--His title--Embassies to
Zeno and Anastasius--Theodoric's care for the rebuilding of cities and
repair of aqueducts--Encouragement of commerce and manufactures--Revival
of agriculture--Anecdotes of Theodoric.

CHAPTER IX.

ROMAN OFFICIALS--CASSIODORUS

The government of Italy still carried on according to Roman
precedents--Classification of the officials--The Consulship and the
Senate--Cassiodorus, his character and his work--His history of the
Goths--His letters and state papers.

CHAPTER X.

THE ARIAN LEAGUE 175

Political bearings of the Arianism of the German invaders of the
Empire--Vandals, Suevi, Visigoths, Burgundians--Uprise of the power of
Clovis--His conversion to Christianity--His wars with Gundobad, king of
the Burgundians--With Alaric II, king of the Visigoths--Downfall of the
monarchy of Toulouse--Usurpation of Gesalic--Theodoric governs Spain as
guardian of his grandson Amalaric.

CHAPTER XI.

ANASTASIUS

Anastasius, the Eastern Emperor--His character--His disputes with his
subjects--Theodoric and the king of the Gepidæ--War of Sirmium and its
consequences--Raid on the coast of Italy--Reconciliation between the
courts of Ravenna and Constantinople--Anastasius confers on Clovis the
title of Consul--Clovis removes many of his rivals--Death of
Clovis--Death of Anastasius.

CHAPTER XII.

ROME AND RAVENNA

Theodoric's visit to Rome--Disputed Papal election--Theodoric's speech
at the Golden Palm--The monk Fulgentius--Bread distributions--Races in
the Circus--Conspiracy of Odoin--Return to Ravenna--Marriage festivities
of Amalaberga--Description of Ravenna--Mosaics in the churches--S.
Apollinare Dentro--Processions of virgins and martyrs--Arian
baptistery--So-called palace of Theodoric--Vanished statues.

CHAPTER XIII.

BOËTHIUS

Clouds in the horizon--Anxiety as to the succession--Death of Eutharic,
son-in-law of Theodoric--His son Athalaric proclaimed as Theodoric's
heir--Pope and Emperor reconciled--Anti-Jewish riot at Ravenna--Strained
relations of Theodoric and his Catholic subjects--- Leaders of the Roman
party--Boëthius and Symmachus--Break-down of the Arian leagues--Cyprian
accuses Albinus of treason--Boëthius, interposing, is included in the
charge--His trial, condemnation and death--The "Consolation of
Philosophy".

CHAPTER XIV.

THEODORIC'S TOMB

Embassy of Pope John to Constantinople--His imprisonment and
death--Execution of Symmachus--Opportune death of Theodoric--Various
stories respecting it--His mausoleum--- Ultimate fate of his remains.

CHAPTER XV.

AMALASUENTHA

Accession of the Emperor Justinian--His place in history--Overthrow of
the Vandal kingdom in Africa by Belisarius--Battles of Ad Decimum and
Tricamaron--Belisarius' triumph--Fall of the Burgundian kingdom--Death
of Amalaric king of Spain--Amalasuentha's troubles with her subjects as
to her son's education--Secret negotiations with Justinian--Death of
Athalaric--Theodahad made partner in the throne--Murder of
Amalasuentha--Justinian declares war.

CHAPTER XVI.

BELISARIUS

Justinian begins his great Gothic war--Dalmatia recovered for the
Empire--Belisarius lands in Sicily--Siege of Palermo--The south of Italy
overrun--Naples taken by a stratagem--Theodahad deposed by the
Goths--Witigis elected king--The Goths evacuate Rome--Belisarius enters
it--The long siege of Rome by the Goths who fail to take it--Belisarius
marches northward and captures Ravenna.

CHAPTER XVII.

TOTILA

Misgovernment of Italy by Justinian's officers--The Gothic cause
revives--Accession of Ildibad--Of Eraric--Of Totila--Totila's character
and policy--His victorious progress--Belisarius sent again to Italy to
oppose him--Siege and capture of Rome by the Goths--The fortifications
of the City dismantled--Belisarius reoccupies it and Totila besieges it
in vain--General success of the Gothic arms--Belisarius returns to
Constantinople--His later fortunes--Never reduced to beggary.

CHAPTER XVIII.

NARSES

Totila again takes Rome--High-water mark of the success of the Gothic
arms--Narses, the Emperor's chamberlain, appointed to command another
expedition for the recovery of Italy--His character--His semi-barbarous
army--Enters Italy--Battle of the Apennines--Totila slain--End of the
Gothic dominion in Italy.

CHAPTER XIX.

THE THEODORIC OF SAGA 370

The fame of Theodoric attested by the Saga dealing with his name,
utterly devoid as they are of historic truth--The Wilkina Saga--Story of
Theodoric's ancestors--His own boyhood--His companions, Master
Hildebrand, Heime, and Witig--Death of his father and his succession to
the throne--Herbart wooes King Arthur's daughter, first for Theodoric
and then for himself--Hermanric, his uncle, attacks Theodoric--Flight
and exile at the Court of Attila--Attempt to return--Attila's sons slain
in battle--The tragedy of the Nibelungs--Theodoric returns to his
kingdom--His mysterious end.

INDEX

[Illustration]

[Illustration]




                             ILLUSTRATIONS.


STATUE OF THEODORIC IN THE CHURCH OF THE FRANCISCANS AT INNSBRUCK--TOMB
OF MAXIMILIAN _Frontispiece._

[1]MAP OF EUROPE A.D. 493

THE BURNT COLUMN, CONSTANTINOPLE

OBELISK OF THEODOSIUS IN THE HIPPODROME AT CONSTANTINOPLE

PEDESTAL OF THE OBELISK OF THEODOSIUS

[1]MAP OF THRACIA, DACIA, AND MACEDONIA IN THE 5TH CENTURY

GOLDEN SOLIDUS, LEO II., ZENO

HALF-SILIQUA OF SILVER, ODOVACAR

[1]MAP OF ITALY UNDER THE OSTROGOTHS

THE ARENA OF VERONA, PRESENT CONDITION

HALF-SILIQUA OF THEODORIC (SILVER), BEARING THE HEAD OF ANASTASIUS

[2] A PAGE OF THE GOTHIC GOSPELS (CODEX ARGENTEUS), MARK VII., 3-7

[1] MAP OF GAUL A.D. 500-523

COIN OF THE GOTHIC KINGDOM IN ITALY

COPPER COIN OF ANASTASIUS (FORTY NUMMI)

PINE FOREST, RAVENNA

INTERIOR OF BASILICA, IN RAVENNA

MOSAIC IN THE CHURCH OF ST. APOLLINARE NUOVO AT RAVENNA, SHOWING THE
PORT OF CLASSIS

PROCESSION OF MARTYRS, MOSAIC FROM ST. APOLLINARE NUOVO IN RAVENNA

PALACE OF THEODORIC, SIDE VIEW

COIN OF THE GOTHIC KINGDOM IN ITALY

VIEW OF MODERN CONSTANTINOPLE

COPPER PIECE OF ATHALARIC, TEN NUMMI (HEAD OF JUSTINIAN?)

[3]THE TOMB OF THEODORIC, RAVENNA

CUIRASS OF THEODORIC (?) IN THE MUSEUM AT RAVENNA

[3]JUSTINIAN AND HIS NOBLES, FROM THE MOSAICS AT RAVENNA

PIECE OF FORTY NUMMI OF THEODAHAD

COPPER SOLIDUS, JUSTIN I. AND JUSTINIAN

COIN OF BADUILA (TOTILA)

COIN OF TEIAS, SUCCESSOR OF TOTILA

VERONA, FROM PONTE VECCHIO, SITE OF PALACE OF THEODORIC IN THE DISTANCE

COIN OF WITIGIS, WITH HEAD OF ANASTASIUS

[Footnote 1: Based upon map from Hodgkin's _Italy and Her Invaders._]

[Footnote 2: Bradley's _Story of the Goths._]

[Footnote 3: Bradley's Story of the Goths.]

[Illustration]

[Illustration]




                          THEODORIC THE GOTH.




                            INTRODUCTION.

[Illustration]

Theodoric the Ostrogoth is one of those men who did great deeds and
filled a large space in the eyes of their contemporaries, but who, not
through their own fault, but from the fact that the stage of the world
was not yet ready for their appearance, have failed to occupy the very
first rank among the founders of empires and the moulders of the
fortunes of the human race.

He was born into the world at the time when the Roman Empire in the West
was staggering blindly to ruin, under the crushing blows inflicted upon
it by two generations of barbarian conquerors. That Empire had been for
more than six centuries indisputably the strongest power in Europe, and
had gathered into its bosom all that was best in the civilisation of the
nations that were settled round the Mediterranean Sea. Rome had given
her laws to all these peoples, had, at any rate in the West, made their
roads, fostered the growth of their cities, taught them her language,
administered justice, kept back the barbarians of the frontier, and for
great spaces of time preserved "the Roman peace" throughout their
habitations. Doubtless there was another side to this picture: heavy
taxation, corrupt judges, national aspirations repressed, free peasants
sinking down into hopeless bondage. Still it cannot be denied that
during a considerable part of its existence the Roman Empire brought, at
least to the western half of Europe, material prosperity and enjoyment
of life which it had not known before, and which it often looked back to
with vain regrets when the great Empire had fallen into ruins. But now,
in the middle of the fifth century, when Theodoric was born amid the
rude splendour of an Ostrogothic palace, the unquestioned ascendancy of
Rome over the nations of Europe was a thing of the past. There were
still two men, one at the Old Rome by the Tiber, and the other at the
New Rome by the Bosphorus, who called themselves August, Pious, and
Happy, who wore the diadem and the purple shoes of Diocletian, and
professed to be joint lords of the universe. Before the Eastern Augustus
and his successors there did in truth lie a long future of dominion, and
once or twice they were to recover no inconsiderable portion of the
broad lands which had formerly been the heritage of the Roman people.
But the Roman Empire at Rome was stricken with an incurable malady. The
three sieges and the final sack of Rome by Alaric (410) revealed to the
world that she was no longer "Roma Invicta", and from that time forward
every chief of Teutonic or Sclavonic barbarians who wandered with his
tribe over the wasted plains between the Danube and the Adriatic, might
cherish the secret hope that he, too, would one day be drawn in triumph
up the Capitolian Hill, through the cowed ranks of the slavish citizens
of Rome, and that he might be lodged on the Palatine in one of the
sumptuous palaces which had been built long ago for "the lords of the
world".

Thus there was everywhere unrest and, as it were, a prolonged moral
earthquake. The old order of things was destroyed, and none could
forecast the shape of the new order of things that would succeed to it.
Something similar has been the state of Europe ever since the great
French Revolution; only that her barbarians threaten her now from
within, not from without. The social state which had been in existence
for centuries, and which had come to be accepted as if it were one of
the great ordinances of nature, is either menaced or is actually broken
up, and how the new democracy will rearrange itself in the seats of the
old civilisation the wisest statesman cannot foretell.

But to any "shepherd of his people", barbarian or Roman, who looked with
foreseeing eye and understanding heart over the Europe of the fifth
century, the duty of the hour was manifest. The great fabric of the
Roman Empire must not be allowed to go to pieces in hopeless ruin. If
not under Roman Augusti, under barbarian kings bearing one title or
another, the organisation of the Empire must be preserved. The
barbarians who had entered it, often it must be confessed merely for
plunder, were remaining in it to rule, and they could not rule by their
own unguided instincts. Their institutions, which had answered well
enough for a half-civilised people, leading their simple, primitive life
in the clearings of the forest of Germany, were quite unfitted for the
complicated relations of the urban and social life of the Mediterranean
lands. There is one passage[4] which has been quoted almost to
weariness, but which it seems necessary to quote again, in order to show
how an enlightened barbarian chief looked upon the problem with which he
found himself confronted, as an invader of the Empire. Ataulfus,
brother-in-law and successor of Alaric, the first capturer of Rome, "was
intimate with a certain citizen of Narbonne, a grave, wise, and
religious person who had served with distinction under Theodosius, and
often remarked to him that in the first ardour of his youth he had
longed to obliterate the Roman name and turn all the Roman lands into an
Empire which should be, and should be called, the Empire of the Goths,
so that what used to be commonly known as Romania should now be
'Gothia,' and that he, Ataulfus, should be in the world what Cæsar
Augustus had been. But now that he had proved by long experience that
the Goths, on account of their unbridled barbarism, could not be
induced to obey the laws, and yet that, on the other hand, there must be
laws, since without them the Commonwealth would cease to be a
Commonwealth, he had chosen, for his part at any rate, that he would
seek the glory of renewing and increasing the Roman name by the arms of
his Gothic followers, and would be remembered by posterity as the
restorer of Rome, since he could not be its changer".

[Footnote 4: Orosius Histor., vii., 43.]

This conversation will be found to express the thoughts of Theodoric the
Ostrogoth, as well as those of Ataulfus the Visigoth, Theodoric also, in
his hot youth, was the enemy of the Roman name and did his best to
overturn the Roman State. But he, too, saw that a nobler career was open
to him as the preserver of the priceless blessings of Roman
civilisation, and he spent his life in the endeavour to induce the Goths
to copy those laws, without which a Commonwealth ceases to be a
Commonwealth. In this great and noble design he failed, as has been
already said, because the times were not ripe for it, because a
continuation of adverse events, which we should call persistent ill-luck
if we did not believe in an overruling Providence, blighted and blasted
his infant state before it had time to root itself firmly in the soil.
None the less, however, does Theodoric deserve credit for having seen
what was the need of Europe, and pre-eminently of Italy, and for having
done his best to supply that need. The great work in which he failed was
accomplished three centuries later by Charles the Frank, who has won for
himself that place in the first rank of world-moulders which Theodoric
has missed. But we may fairly say that Theodoric's designs were as noble
and as statesmanlike as those of the great Emperor Charles, and that if
they had been crowned with the success which they deserved, three
centuries of needless barbarism and misery would have been spared to
Europe.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]




                             CHAPTER I.


                      THEODORIC'S ANCESTORS.

Ostrogoths and Visigoths--Nations forming the Gothic Confederacy--Royal
family of the Amals--Gothic invasion in the Second Century--Hermanric
the Ostrogoth--Inroad of the Huns--Defeat of the Ostrogoths--Defeat of
the Visigoths--The Visigoths within the Empire--Battle of
Adrianople--Alaric in Rome.


[Illustration]

Towards the end of the second century of the Christian Era a great
confederacy of Teutonic nations occupied those vast plains in the south
of Russia which are now, and have been for more than a thousand years,
the homes of Sclavonic peoples. These nations were the Ostrogoths, the
Visigoths, and the Gepidæ. Approximately we may say that the Ostrogoths
(or East Goths) dwelt from the Don to the Dnieper, the Visigoths (or
West Goths) from the Dnieper to the Pruth, and the Gepidæ to the north
of both, in the district which has since been known as Little Russia.
These three nations were, as has been said, Teutons, and they belonged
to that division of the Teutonic race which is called Low-German, man;
that is to say, that they were more nearly allied to the Frisians, the
Dutch, and to our own Saxon forefathers than they were to the ancestors
of the modern Swabian, Bavarian, and Austrian. They worshipped Odin and
Thunnor; they wrote the scanty records of their race in Runic
characters; they were probably chiefly a pastoral folk, but may have
begun to practise agriculture in the rich cornlands of the Ukraine. They
were essentially a monarchic people, following their kings, whom they
believed to be sprung from the seed of gods, loyally to the field, and
shedding their blood with readiness at their command; but their monarchy
was of the early Teutonic type, always more or less limited by the
deliberations of the great armed assembly of the nation, which (in some
tribes at least) was called the Folc-mote or the Folc-thing; and there
were no strict rules of hereditary succession, the crown being elective
but limited in practice to the members of one ruling and
heaven-descended family.

This family, sprung from the seed of gods, but ruling by the popular
will over the Ostrogothic people, was known as the family of the Amals.
It is true that the divine and exclusive prerogatives of the family have
been somewhat magnified by the minstrels who sang in the courts of their
descendants, for there are manifest traces of kings ruling over the
Ostrogothic people, who are not included in the Amal genealogy. Still,
as far as we can peer through the obscurity of the early history of the
people, we may safely say that there was no other family of higher
position than the Amals, and that gradually all that consciousness of
national life and determination to cherish national unity, which among
the Germanic peoples was inseparably connected with the institution of
royalty, centred round the race of the divine Amala.

The following is the pedigree of this royal clan, as given by the
historian of the Goths,[5] and with those epithets which the secretary
of Theodoric[6] attached to the names of some of the ancestors of his
lord. (The names of those who wore the crown are marked in italics.)


                            Gapt (possibly=Gaut, the eponymous
                              |     hero of the Gothic nation)
                            Hulmul
                              |
                             Augis
                              |
                         Amal ("the fortunate")
                              |
                            Hisarna (=the man of iron)
                              |
                          _OSTROGOTHA_ ("the patient")
                              |
                            Hunuil
                              |
                         Athal ("the mild")
                              |________________________________
                              |                               |
                            Achiulf                         Odwulf
                              |
______________________________|________________________________
|            |                |                               |
Ansila       Ediulf          Vultwulf                    _Hermanric_
                              |                               |
                          Walaravans                    _Hunimund_
                              |                      ("the beautiful")
                              |                               |
                       Winithar_ ("the just")           _Thorismund_
                              |                         ("the chaste")
                         _Wideric_
                              |
                           Wandalar
    __________________________|__________________________
    |                         |                          |
 _Walamir_                 _Theudemir_                   _Widemir_
 ("the faithful")      ("the affectionate")
                              |
                          THEODORIC.


[Footnote 5: Jordanes.]

[Footnote 6: Cassiodorus.]

These fifteen generations, which should carry back the Amal ancestry
four hundred and fifty years, or almost precisely to the Christian Era,
seem to have marked the utmost limit to which the memory of the Gothic
heralds, aided by the songs of the Gothic minstrels, could reach. The
forms of many of the names, the initial "Wala" and "Theude", the
terminal "wulf", "mir", and "mund" will be at once recognised as purely
Teutonic, recalling many similar names in the royal lines of the Franks,
the Visigoths and the Vandals, and the West Saxons.

In the great, loosely knit confederacy which has been described as
filling the regions of Southern Russia in the third and fourth centuries
of our Era, the predominant power seems to have been held by the
Ostrogothic nation. In the third century, when a succession of weak
ephemeral emperors ruled and all but ruined the Roman State, the Goths
swarmed forth in their myriads, both by sea and land, to ravage the
coast of the Euxine and the Ægean, to cross the passes of the Balkans,
to make their desolating presence felt at Ephesus and at Athens. Two
great Emperors of Illyrian origin, Claudius and Aurelian, succeeded, at
a fearful cost of life, in repelling the invasion and driving back the
human torrent. But it was impossible to recover from the barbarians
Trajan's province of Dacia, which they had overrun, and the Emperors
wisely compromised the dispute by abandoning to the Goths and their
allies all the territory north of the Danube. This abandoned province
was chiefly occupied by the Visigoths, the Western members of the
confederacy, who for the century from 275 to 375 were the neighbours,
generally the allies, by fitful impulses the enemies, of Rome. With
Constantine the Great especially the Visigoths came powerfully in
contact, first as invaders and then as allies (_fœderati_) bound to
furnish a certain number of auxiliaries to serve under the eagles of the
Empire.

Meanwhile the Ostrogoths, with their faces turned for the time northward
instead of southward, were battling daily with the nations of Finnish or
Sclavonic stock that dwelt by the upper waters of the Dnieper, the Don,
and the Volga, and were extending their dominion over the greater part
of what we now call Russia-in-Europe. The lord of this wide but most
loosely compacted kingdom, in the middle of the fourth century, was a
certain Hermanric, whom his flatterers, with some slight knowledge of
the names held in highest repute among their Southern neighbours,
likened to Alexander the Great for the magnitude of his conquests.
However shadowy some of these conquests may appear in the light of
modern criticism, there can be little doubt that the Visigoths owned his
over-lordship, and that when Constantius and Julian were reigning in
Constantinople, the greatest name over a wide extent of territory north
of the Black Sea was that of Hermanric the Ostrogoth.

When this warrior was in extreme old age, a terrible disaster befell his
nation and himself. It was probably about the year 374 that a horde of
Asiatic savages made their appearance in the south-eastern corner of his
dominions, having, so it is said, crossed the Sea of Azof in its
shallowest part by a ford. These men rode upon little ponies of great
speed and endurance, each of which seemed to be incorporated with its
rider, so perfect was the understanding between the horseman, who spent
his days and nights in the saddle, and the steed which he bestrode.
Little black restless eyes gleamed beneath their low foreheads and
matted hair; no beard or whisker adorned their uncouth yellow faces; the
Turanian type in its ugliest form was displayed by these Mongolian sons
of the wilderness. They bore a name destined to be of disastrous and yet
also indirectly of most beneficent import in the history of the world;
for these are the true shatterers of the Roman Empire. They were the
terrible Huns.

Before the impact of this new and strange enemy the Empire of
Hermanric--an Empire which rested probably rather on the reputation of
warlike prowess than on any great inherent strength, military or
political--went down with a terrible crash. Dissimilar as are the times
and the circumstances, we are reminded of the collapse of the military
systems of Austria and Prussia under the onset of the ragged Jacobins of
France, shivering and shoeless, but full of demonic energy, when we read
of the humiliating discomfiture of this stately Ostrogothic
monarchy--doubtless possessing an ordered hierarchy of nobles, free
warriors, and slaves--by the squalid, hard-faring and, so to say,
democratic savages from Asia.

The death of Hermanric, which was evidently due to the Hunnish victory,
is assigned by the Gothic historian to a cause less humiliating to the
national vanity. The king of the Rosomones, "a perfidious nation", had
taken the opportunity of the appearance of the savage invaders to
renounce his allegiance, perhaps to desert his master treacherously on
the field of battle. The enraged Hermanric, unable to vent his fury on
the king himself, caused his wife, Swanhilda, to be torn asunder by wild
horses to whom she was tied by the hands and feet. Her brothers, Sarus
and Ammius, avenged her cruel death by a spear-thrust, which wounded the
aged monarch, but did not kill him outright. Then came the crisis of the
invasion of the Huns under their King Balamber. The Visigoths, who had
some cause of complaint against Hermanric, left him to fight his battle
without their aid; and the old king, in sore pain with his wound and
deeply mortified by the incursion of the Huns, breathed out his life in
the one hundred and tenth year of his age. All of which is probably a
judicious veiling of the fact,[7] that the great Hermanric was defeated
by the Hunnish invaders, and in his despair laid violent hands on
himself.

[Footnote 7: Mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus.]

The huge and savage horde rolled on over the wide plains of Russia. The
Ostrogothic resistance was at an end; and soon the invaders were on the
banks of the Dniester threatening the kindred nation of the Visigoths.
Athanaric, "Judge" (as he was called) of the Visigoths, a brave, old
soldier, but not a very skilful general, was soon out-manœuvred by these
wild nomads from the desert, who crossed the rivers by unexpected fords,
and by rapid night-marches turned the flank of his most carefully
chosen positions. The line of the Dniester was abandoned; the line of
the Pruth was lost. It was plain that the Visigoths, like their Eastern
brethren, if they remained in the land, must bow their heads beneath the
Hunnish yoke. To avoid so degrading a necessity, and if they must lose
their independence, to lose it to the stately Emperors of Rome rather
than to the chief of a filthy Tartar horde, the great majority of the
Visigothic nation flocked southward through the region which is now
called Wallachia, and, standing on the northern shore of the Danube,
prayed for admission within the province of Mœsia and the Empire of
Rome. In 376 an evil hour for himself Valens, the then reigning Emperor
of the East, granted this petition and received into his dominions the
Visigothic fugitives, a great and warlike nation, without taking any
proper precautions, on the one hand, that they should be disarmed, on
the other, that they should be supplied with food for their present
necessities and enabled for the future to become peaceful cultivators of
the soil. The inevitable result followed. Before many months had elapsed
the Visigoths were in arms against the Empire, and under the leadership
of their hereditary chiefs were wandering up and down through the
provinces of Mœsia and Thrace, wresting from the terror-stricken
provincials not only the food which the parsimony of Valens had failed
to supply them with, but the treasures which centuries of peace had
stored up in villa and unwalled town. In 378 they achieved a brilliant,
and perhaps unexpected, triumph, defeating a large army commanded by
the Roman Emperor Valens in person, in a pitched battle near Adrianople.
Valens himself perished on the field of battle, and his unburied corpse
disappeared among the embers of a Thracian hut which had been set fire
to by the barbarians. That fatal day (August 9, 378) was admitted to be
more disastrous for Rome than any which had befallen her since the
terrible defeat of Cannæ, and from it we may fitly date the beginning of
that long process of dissolution, lasting, in a certain sense, more than
a thousand years, which we call the Fall of the Roman Empire.

In this long tragedy the part of chief actor fell, during the first act,
to the _Visigothic nation_. With their doings we have here no special
concern. It is enough to say that for one generation they remained in
the lands south of the Danube, first warring against Rome, then, by the
wise policy of their conqueror, Theodosius, incorporated in her armies
under the title of _fœderati_ and serving her in the main with zeal and
fidelity. In 395[8] a Visigothic chief, Alaric by name, of the
god-descended seed of Balthæ, was raised upon the shield by the warriors
of his tribe and hailed as their king. His elevation seems to have been
understood as a defiance to the Empire and a re-assertion of the old
national freedom which had prevailed on the other side of the Danube. At
any rate the rest of his life was spent either in hostility to the
Empire or in a pretence of friendship almost more menacing than
hostility. He began by invading Greece and penetrated far south into
the Peloponnesus. He then took up a position in the province of
Illyricum--probably in the countries now known as Bosnia and
Servia--from which he could threaten the Eastern or Western Empire at
pleasure. Finally, with the beginning of the fifth century after Christ,
he descended into Italy, and though at first successful only in ravage,
in the second invasion he penetrated to the very heart of the Empire.
His three sieges of Rome, ending in the awful event of the capture and
sack of the Eternal City in 410, are events in the history of the world
with which every student is familiar. Only it may be remarked that the
word awful, which is here used designedly, is not meant to imply that
the loss of life was unusually large or the cruelty of the captors
outrageous; in both respects Alaric and his Goths would compare
favourably with some generals and some armies making much higher
pretensions to civilisation. Nor is it meant that the destruction of the
public buildings of the city was extensive. There can be little doubt
that Paris, on the day after the suppression of the "Commune" in 1871,
presented a far greater appearance of desolation and ruin than Rome in
410, when she lay trembling in the hand of Alaric. But the bare fact
that Rome herself, the Roma Æterna, the Roma Invicta of a thousand coins
of a hundred Emperors,--Rome, whose name for centuries on the shores of
the Mediterranean had been synonymous with worldwide dominion,--should
herself be taken, sacked, dishonoured by the presence of a flaxen-haired
barbarian conqueror from the North, was one of those events apparently
so contrary to the very course of Nature itself, that the nations which
heard the tidings, many of them old and bitter enemies of Rome, now her
subjects and her friends, held their breath with awe at the terrible
recital.

[Footnote 8: Probably. Some historians put the date in 382, others in
400.]

Alaric died shortly after his sack of Rome, and after a few years of
aimless fighting his nation quitted Italy, disappearing over the
north-western Alpine boundary to win for themselves new settlements by
the banks of the Garonne and the Ebro. Their leader was that Ataulfus
whose truly statesmanlike reflections on the unwisdom of destroying the
Roman Empire and the necessity of incorporating the barbarians with its
polity have been already quoted. There, in the south-western corner of
Gaul and the northern regions of Spain, we must for the present leave
the Western branch of the great Gothic nationality, while our narrative
returns to its Eastern representatives.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]




                            CHAPTER II.


                       THE MIGHT OF ATTILA.

The Ostrogoths under the Huns--The three royal brothers--Attila king of
the Huns--He menaces the Eastern Empire--He strikes at Gaul--Battle of
the Catalaunian plains--Invasion of Italy--Destruction of
Aquileia--Death of Attila and disruption of his Empire--Settlement of
the Ostrogoths in Pannonia.


For eighty years the power of the Ostrogoths suffered eclipse under the
shadow of Hunnish barbarism. As to this period we have little historical
information that is of any value. We hear of resistance to the Hunnish
supremacy vainly attempted and sullenly abandoned. The son and the
grandson of Hermanric figure as the shadowy heroes of this vain
resistance. After the death of the latter (King Thorismund) a strange
story is told us of the nation mourning his decease for forty years,
during all which time they refused to elect any other king to replace
him whom they had lost. There can be little doubt that this legend veils
the prosaic fact that the nation, depressed and dispirited under the
yoke of the conquering Huns, had not energy or patriotism enough to
choose a king; since almost invariably among the Teutons of that age,
kingship and national unity flourished or faded together.

At length, towards the middle of the fifth century after Christ, the
darkness is partially dispelled, and we find the Ostrogothic nation
owning the sovereignty of three brothers sprung from the Amal race, but
not direct descendants of Hermanric, whose names are Walamir, Theudemir,
and Widemir. "Beautiful it was", says the Gothic historian, "to behold
the mutual affection of these three brothers, when the admirable
Theudemir served like a common soldier under the orders of Walamir; when
Walamir adorned him with the crown at the same time that he conveyed to
him his orders; when Widemir gladly rendered his services to both of his
brothers".[9] Theudemir, the second in this royal brotherhood, was the
father of our hero, Theodoric.

[Footnote 9: This is a partly paraphrastic and conjectural translation
of a very obscure sentence of Jordanes.]

The three Ostrogothic brethren, kings towards their own countrymen, were
subjects--almost, we might say, servants--of the wide-ruling king of the
Huns, who was now no longer one of those forgotten chiefs by whom the
conquering tribe had been first led into Europe, but ATTILA, a name of
fear to his contemporaries and long remembered in the Roman world. He,
with his brother Bleda, mounted the barbarian throne in the year 433,
and after twelve years the death of Bleda (who was perhaps murdered by
order of his brother) left Attila sole wielder of the forces which made
him the terror of the world. He dwelt in rude magnificence in a village
not far from the Danube, and his own special dominions seem to have
pretty nearly corresponded with the modern kingdom of Hungary. But he
held in leash a vast confederacy of nations--Teutonic, Sclavonic, and
what we now call Turanian,--whose territories stretched from the Rhine
to the Caucasus, and he is said to have made "the isles of the Ocean",
which expression probably denotes the islands and peninsulas of
Scandinavia, subject to his sway. Neither, however, over the Ostrogoths
nor over any of the other subject nations included in this vast dominion
are we to think of Attila's rule as an organised, all-permeating,
assimilating influence, such as was the rule of a Roman Emperor. It was
rather the influence of one great robber-chief over his freebooting
companions. The kings of the Ostrogoths and Gepidæ came at certain times
to share the revelries of their lord in his great log-palace on the
Danubian plain; they received his orders to put their subjects in array
when he would ride forth to war, and woe was unto them if they failed to
stand by his side on the day of battle; but these things being done,
they probably ruled their own peoples with little interference from
their over-lord. The Teutonic members of the confederacy, notably the
Ostrogoths and the kindred tribe of Gepidæ seem to have exercised upon
the court and the councils of Attila an influence not unlike that
wielded by German statesmen at the court of Russia during the last
century. The Huns, during their eighty years of contact with Europe, had
lost a little of that utter savageness which they brought with them from
the Tartar deserts. If they were not yet in any sense civilised, they
could in some degree appreciate the higher civilisation of their
Teutonic subjects. A Pagan himself, with scarcely any religion except
some rude cult of the sword of the war-god, Attila seems never to have
interfered in the slightest degree with the religious practices of the
Gepidæ or the Ostrogoths, the large majority of whom were by this time
Christians, holding the Arian form of faith. And not only did he not
discourage the finer civilisation which he saw prevailing among these
German subjects of his, but he seems to have had statesmanship enough to
value and respect a culture which he did not share, and especially to
have prized the temperate wisdom of their chiefs, when they helped him
to array his great host of barbarians for war against the Empire.

From his position in Central Europe, Attila, like Alaric before him, was
able to threaten either the Eastern or the Western Empire at pleasure.
For almost ten years (440-450) he seemed to be bent on picking a quarrel
with Theodosius II., the feeble and unwarlike prince who reigned at
Constantinople. He laid waste the provinces south of the Danube with his
desolating raids; he worried the Imperial Court with incessant
embassies, each more exacting and greedy than the last (for the favour
of the rude Hunnish envoy had to be purchased by large gifts from the
Imperial Treasury); he himself insisted on the payment of yearly
_stipendia_ by the Emperor; he constantly demanded that these payments
should be doubled; he openly stated that they were nothing else than
tribute, and that the Roman Augustus who paid them was his slave.

These practices were continued until, in the year 450 the gentle
Theodosius died. He was succeeded by his sister Pulcheria and her
husband Marcian, who soon gave a manlier tone to the counsels of the
Eastern Empire. Attila marked the change and turned his harassing
attentions to the Western State, with which he had always a sufficient
number of pretexts for war ready for use. In fact he had made up his
mind for war, and no concessions, however humiliating, on the part of
Valentinian III., the then Emperor of the West, would have availed to
stay his progress. Not Italy however, to some extent protected by the
barrier of the Alps, but the rich cities and comparatively unwasted
plains of Gaul attracted the royal freebooter. Having summoned his vast
and heterogeneous army from every quarter of Central and North-eastern
Europe, and surrounded himself by a crowd of subject kings, the captains
of his host, he set forward in the spring of 451 for the lands of the
Rhine. The trees which his soldiers felled in the great Hercynian forest
of Central Germany were fashioned into rude rafts or canoes, on which
they crossed the Rhine; and soon the terrible Hun and his "horde of
many-nationed spoilers" were passing over the regions which we now call
Belgium and Lorraine in a desolating stream. The Huns, not only
barbarians, but heathens, seem in this invasion to have been animated by
an especial hatred to Christianity. Many a fair church of Gallia Belgica
was laid in ashes: many a priest was slain before the altar, whose
sanctity was vain for his protection. The real cruelties thus committed
are wildly exaggerated by the mythical fancy of the Middle Ages, and
upon the slenderest foundations of historical fact arose stately
edifices of fable, like the story of the Cornish Princess Ursula, who
with her eleven thousand virgin companions was fabled to have suffered
death at the hands of the Huns in the city of Cologne.

The barbarian tide was at length arrested by the strong walls of
Orleans, whose stubborn defence saved all that part of Gaul which lies
within the protecting curve of the Loire from the horrors of their
invasion. At midsummer Attila and his host were retiring from the
untaken city, and beginning their retreat towards the Rhine, a retreat
which they were not to accomplish unhindered. The extremity of the
danger from these utterly savage foes had welded together the old Empire
and the new Gothic kingdom, the civilised and the half-civilised power,
in one great confederacy, for the defence of all that was worth saving
in human society. The tidings of the approach of the Gothic king had
hastened the departure of Attila from the environs of Orleans, and,
perhaps about a fortnight later, the allied armies of Romans and Goths
came up with the retreating Huns in "the Catalaunian plains" not far
from the city of Troyes. The general of the Imperial army was Aëtius;
the general and king of the Visigoths was Theodoric, a namesake of our
hero. Both were capable and valiant soldiers. On the other side,
conspicuous among the subject kings who formed the staff of Attila, were
the three Ostrogothic brethren, and Ardaric, king of the Gepidæ. The
loyalty of Walamir, the firm grasp with which he kept his master's
secrets, and Ardaric's resourcefulness in counsel were especially prized
by Attila. And truly he had need of all their help, for, though it is
difficult to ascertain with any degree of accuracy the numbers actually
engaged (162,000 are said to have fallen on both sides), it is clear
that this was a collision of nations rather than of armies, and that it
required greater skill than any that the rude Hunnish leader possessed,
to win the victory for his enormous host. After "a battle ruthless,
manifold, gigantic, obstinate, such as antiquity never described when
she told of warlike deeds, such as no man who missed the sight of that
marvel might ever hope to have another chance of beholding",[10] night
fell upon the virtually defeated Huns. The Gothic king had lost his
life, but Attila had lost the victory. All night long the Huns kept up a
barbarous dissonance to prevent the enemy from attacking them, but their
king's thoughts were of suicide. He had prepared a huge funeral pyre, on
which, if the enemy next day successfully attacked his camp, he was
determined to slay himself amid the kindled flames, in order that
neither living nor dead the mighty Attila might fall into the hands of
his enemies. These desperate expedients, however, were not required. The
death of Theodoric, the caution of Aëtius, some jealousy perhaps between
the Roman and the Goth, some anxiety on the part of the eldest Gothic
prince as to the succession to his father's throne,--all these causes
combined to procure for Attila a safe but closely watched return into
his own land.

[Footnote 10: These are the words of the Gothic historian, Jordanes.]

The battle of the Catalaunian plains (usually but not quite correctly
called the battle of Châlons) was a memorable event in the history of
the Gothic race, of Europe, and of the world. It was a sad necessity
which on this one occasion arrayed the two great branches of the Gothic
people, the Visigoths under Theodoric, and the Ostrogoths under Walamir,
in fratricidal strife against each other. For Europe the alliance
between Roman and Goth, between the grandson of Theodosius, Emperor of
Rome, and the successor of Alaric, the besieger of Rome, was of
priceless value and showed that the great and statesmanlike thought of
Ataulfus was ripening in the minds of those who came after him. For the
world, yes even for us in the nineteenth century, and for the great
undiscovered continents beyond the sea, the repulse of the squalid and
unprogressive Turanian from the seats of the old historic civilisation,
was essential to the preservation of whatever makes human life worth
living. Had Attila conquered on the Catalaunian plains, an endless
succession of Jenghiz Khans and Tamerlanes would probably have swept
over the desolated plains of Europe; Paris and Florence would have been
even as Khiva and Bokhara, and the island of Britain would not have yet
attained to the degree of civilisation reached by the peninsula of
Corea.

In the year after the fruitless invasion of Gaul, Attila crossed the
Julian Alps and entered Italy, intending (452) doubtless to rival the
fame of Alaric by his capture of Rome, an operation which would have
been attended with infinitely greater ruin to

"the seven-hilled city's pride",

than any which she had sustained at the hands of the Visigothic leader.
But the Huns, unskilful in siege work, were long detained before the
walls of Aquileia, that great and flourishing frontier city, hitherto
deemed impregnable, which gathered in the wealth of the Venetian
province, and guarded the north-eastern approaches to Italy. At length
by a sudden assault they made themselves masters of the city, which they
destroyed with utter destruction, putting all the inhabitants to the
sword, and then wrapping in fire and smoke the stately palaces, the
wharves, the mint, the forum, the theatres of the fourth city of Italy.
The terror of this brutal destruction took from the other cities of
Venetia all heart for resistance to the terrible invader. From
Concordia, Altino, Padua, crowds of trembling fugitives walked, waded,
or sailed with their hastily gathered and most precious possessions to
the islands, surrounded by shallow lagoons, which fringed the Adriatic
coast, near the mouths of the Brenta and Adige. There at Torcello,
Burano, Rialto, Malamocco, and their sister islets, they laid the humble
foundations of that which was one day to be the gorgeous and
wide-ruling Republic of Venice.

Attila meanwhile marched on through the valley of the Po ravaging and
plundering, but a little slackening in the work of mere destruction, as
the remembrance of the stubborn defence of Aquileia faded from his
memory. Entering Milan as a conqueror, and seeing there a picture
representing the Emperors of the Romans sitting on golden thrones, and
the Scythian barbarians crouching at their feet, he sought out a
Milanese painter, and bade the trembling artist represent him, Attila,
sitting on the throne, and the two Roman Emperors staggering under sacks
full of gold coin, which they bore upon their shoulders, and pouring out
their precious contents at his feet.

This little incident helps us to understand the next strange act in the
drama of Attila's invasion. To enjoy the luxury of humbling the great
Empire, and of trampling on the pride of her statesmen, seems to have
been the sweetest pleasure of his life. This mere gratification of his
pride, the pride of an upstart barbarian, at the expense of the
inheritors of a mighty name and the representatives of venerable
traditions, was the object which took him into Italy, rather than any
carefully prepared scheme of worldwide conquest. Accordingly when that
august body, the Senate of Rome, sent a consul, a prefect, and more than
all a pope, the majestic and fitly-named Leo, to plead humbly in the
name of the Roman people for peace, and to promise acquiescence at some
future day in the most unreasonable of his demands, Attila granted the
ambassadors an interview by the banks of the Mincio, listened with
haughty tranquillity to their petition, allowed himself to be soothed
and, as it were, magnetised by the words and gestures of the venerable
pontiff, accepted the rich presents which were doubtless laid at his
feet, and turning his face homewards recrossed the Julian Alps, leaving
the Apennines untraversed and Rome unvisited.

Even in the act of granting peace Attila used words which showed that it
would be only a truce, and that (452) if there were any failure to abide
by any one of his conditions, he would return and work yet greater
mischief to Italy than any which she had yet suffered at his hands. But
he had missed the fateful moment, and the delight of standing on the
conquered Palatine, and seeing the smoke ascend from the ruined City of
the World, was never to be his. In the year after his invasion of Italy
he died suddenly at night, apparently the victim of the drunken debauch
with which the polygamous barbarian had celebrated the latest addition
to the numerous company of his wives.

With Attila's death the might of the Hunnish Empire was broken. The
great robber-camp needed the ascendancy of one strong chief-robber to
hold it together, and that ascendancy no one of the multitudinous sons
who emerged from the chambers of his harem was able to exert. Unable to
agree as to the succession of the throne, they talked of dividing the
Hunnish dominions between them, and in the discussions which ensued they
showed too plainly that they looked upon the subject nations as their
slaves, to be partitioned as a large household of such domestics would
be partitioned among the heirs of their dead master. The pride of the
Teutons was touched, and they determined to strike a blow for the
recovery of their lost freedom. Ardaric, king of the Gepidæ, so long the
trusty counsellor of Attila, was prime mover in the revolt against his
sons. A battle was fought by the banks of the river Nedao[11] between
the Huns (with those subject allies who still remained faithful to them)
and the revolted nations.

[Footnote 11: Situation unknown, except that it was in Pannonia, that
is, probably in Hungary, somewhere between the Save and the Danube.]

Among these revolted nations there can be but little doubt that the
Ostrogoths held a high place, though the matter is not so clearly stated
as we should have expected, by the Gothic historian, and even on his
showing the glory of the struggle for independence was mainly Ardaric's.
After a terrible battle the Gepidæ were victorious, and Ellak, eldest
son of Attila, with, it is said, thirty thousand of his soldiers, lay
dead upon the field. "He had wrought a great slaughter of his enemies,
and so glorious was his end", says Jordanes, "that his father might well
have envied him his manner of dying".

The battle of Nedao, whatever may have been the share of the Ostrogoths
in the actual fighting, certainly brought them freedom. From this time
the great Hunnish Empire was at an end, and there was a general
resettlement of territory among the nations which had been subject to
its yoke. While the Huns themselves, abandoning their former
habitations, moved, for the most part, down the Danube, and became the
humble servants of the Eastern Empire, the Gepidæ, perhaps marching
southward occupied the great Hungarian plains on the left bank of the
Danube, which had been the home of Attila and his Huns; and the
Ostrogoths going westwards (perhaps with some dim notion of following
their Visigothic kindred) took up their abode in that which had once
been the Roman province of Pannonia, now doubtless known to be
hopelessly lost to the Empire.

Pannonia, the new home of the Ostrogoths, was the name of a region,
rectangular in shape, about two hundred miles from north to south and
one hundred and sixty miles from east to west, whose northern and
eastern sides were washed by the river Danube, and whose north-eastern
corner was formed by the sudden bend to the south which that river
makes, a little above Buda-Pest. This region includes Vienna and the
eastern part of the Archduchy of Austria, Grätz, and the eastern part of
the Duchy of Styria, but it is chiefly composed of the great
corn-growing plain of Western Hungary, and contains the two considerable
lakes of Balaton and Neusiedler See. Here then the three Ostrogothic
brethren took up their abode, and of this province they made a kind of
rude partition between them, while still treating it as one kingdom, of
which Walamir was the head. The precise details of this division of
territory cannot now be recovered,[12] nor are they of much importance,
as the settlement was of short duration. We can only say that Walamir
and Theudemir occupied the two ends of the territory, and Widemir dwelt
between them. What is most interesting to us is the fact that
Theudemir's territory included Lake Balaton (or Platten See), and that
his palace may very possibly have stood upon the shores of that noble
piece of water, which is forty-seven miles in length and varies from
three to nine miles in width. To the neighbourhood of this lake, in the
absence of more precise information, we may with some probability assign
the birth-place and the childish home of Theodoric.[13]

[Illustration: Graphic element.]

[Footnote 12: Jordanes (Getica) says: "Valamer inter Scarniungam et
Aquam Nigram fluvios, Thiudimer juxta lacum Pelsois, Vidimer inter
utrosque manebat". It seems to be hopeless to determine what rivers are
denoted by "Scarniunga" and "Aqua Nigra".]

[Footnote 13: Of course the location of Theudemir's palace on the actual
shore of Lake Balaton can only be treated as a conjecture, but the
pointed way in which Jordanes, in the passage last quoted, speaks of him
as "_juxta_ lacuna Pelsois", seems to make the conjecture a probable
one. Some geographers have identified Pelso Lacus with the Neusiedler
See, but apparently on insufficient grounds.]

[Illustration]




                           CHAPTER III.


                       THEODORIC'S BOYHOOD.

Inroad of the Huns--Their defeat by Walamir--Birth of Theodoric--War
with the Eastern Empire--Theodoric a hostage--Description of
Constantinople--Its commerce and its monuments.


The Ostrogoths had yet one or two battles to fight before they were
quite rid of their old masters. The sons of Attila still talked of them
as deserters and fugitive slaves, and a day came when Walamir found
himself compelled to face a sudden inroad of the Huns. He had few men
with him, and being taken unawares, he had no time to summon his
brethren to his aid. But he held his own bravely: the warriors of his
nation had time to gather round him; and at last, after he had long
wearied the enemy with his defensive tactics, he made a sudden onset,
destroyed the greater part of the Hunnish army, and sent the rest
scattered in hopeless flight far into the deserts of Scythia.[14]

[Footnote 14: Jordanes (cap. iii) says that the fugitive Huns "sought
those parts of Scythia past which flow the streams of the river Dnieper
which the Huns in their own tongue call 'Var' (the river)". If this is
correctly stated it is almost certain that it must describe some battle
which happened _before_ the great Western migration of the Ostrogoths,
which was mentioned in the last chapter, for it would be impossible, if
the Gepidæ were in Trans-danubian Hungary and the Ostrogoths in Pannonia
that the Ostrogoths should have driven the Huns into the countries
watered by the Dnieper. I am rather inclined to believe that this
reference of the battle to an earlier period may be the correct
explanation. But Danapri (Dnieper) may be only a blunder of Jordanes,
who is often hopelessly wrong in his geography.]

Walamir at once sent tidings of the victory to his brother Theudemir.
The messenger arrived at an opportune moment, for on that very day
Erelieva, the unwedded wife of Theudemir, had given birth to a
man-child. This infant, born on such an auspicious day and looked upon
as a pledge of happy fortunes for the Ostrogothic nation, was named
Thiuda-reiks (the people-ruler), a name which Latin historians,
influenced perhaps by the analogy of Theodosius, changed into
Theodoricus, and which will here be spoken of under the well-known form
THEODORIC.[15]

[Footnote 15: Jordanes wavers between Theod_e_ricus and Theod_o_ricus.
The Greek historians generally use the form θευδερίχος. German scholars
seem to prefer Theoderich. As it is useless now to try to revert to the
philologically correct Thiuda-reiks, I use that form of the name with
which I suppose English readers to be most familiar--namely, Theodoric.]

It will be observed that I have spoken of Erelieva as the unwedded wife
of Theudemir. The Gothic historian calls her his concubine,[16] but this
word of reproach hardly does justice to her position. In many of the
Teutonic nations, as among the Norsemen of a later century, there seems
to have been a certain laxity as to the marriage rite, which was
nevertheless coincident with a high and pure morality. It has been
suggested that the severe conditions imposed by the Church on divorces
may have had something to do with the peculiar marital usages of the
Teutonic and Norse chieftains. Reasons of state might require Theudemir
the Ostrogoth, or William Longsword the Norman, to ally himself some day
with a powerful king's daughter, and therefore he would not go through
the marriage rite with the woman, really and truly his wife, but
generally his inferior in social position, who meanwhile governed his
house and bore him children. If the separation never came, and the
powerful king's daughter never had to be wooed, she who was wife in all
but name, retained her position unquestioned till her death, and her
children succeeded without dispute to the inheritance of their father.
The nearest approach to an illustration which the social usages of
modern Europe afford, is probably furnished by the "morganatic
marriages" of modern German royalties and serenities: and we might say
that Theodoric was the offspring of such an union. Notwithstanding the
want of strict legitimacy in his position, I do not remember any
occasion on which the taunt of bastard birth was thrown in his teeth,
even by the bitterest of his foes.

[Footnote 16: "Ipso siquidem die Theodoricus ejus filius quamvis de
Erelieva concubina, bonæ tamen spei natus est" (Jordanes: Getica, 52).]

It would be satisfactory if we could fix with exactness the great
Ostrogoth's birth-year, but though several circumstances point to 454
as a probable date, we are not able to define it with greater
precision.[17]

[Footnote 17: If there be any truth in the suggestion made above, that
the Hunnish attack on Walamir was made before the Ostrogothic migration
into Pannonia, the birth-year must be moved up to 452.]

The next event of which we are informed in the history of the
Ostrogothic nation, a war with the Eastern Empire, was one destined to
exert a most important influence on the life of the kingly child, The
Ostrogoths settling in Pannonia, one of the provinces of the Roman
Empire, were in theory allies and auxiliary soldiers[18] of the Emperor.
Similar arrangements had been made with the Visigoths in Spain, with the
Vandals in that very province of Pannonia, probably with many other
barbarian tribes in many other provinces. There was sometimes more,
sometimes less, actual truth in the theoretical relations thus
established, and it was one which in the nature of things was not likely
long to endure: but for the time, so long as the Imperial treasury was
tolerably full and the barbarian allies tolerably amenable to control,
the arrangement suited both parties. In the case before us the position
of the Ostrogoths in Pannonia was legalised by the alliance, and such
portions of the political machinery of the Empire as might still remain
were thereby placed at their disposal. The Emperor, on the other hand,
was able to boast of a province recovered for the Empire, which was now
guarded by the broadswords of his loyal Ostrogoths against the more
savage nations outside, who were ever trying to enter the charmed
circle of the Roman State. But as the Ostrogothic _fœderati_ were his
soldiers, there was evidently a necessity that he must send them pay,
and this pay, which was called wages when the Empire was strong, and
tribute when it was weak, consisted, partly at any rate, of heavy chests
of Imperial _aurei_,[19] sent as _strenae_[20] or New Year's presents,
to the barbarian king and his chief nobles.

[Footnote 18: _Fœderati_.]

[Footnote 19: The _solidus aureus_, the chief Imperial coin of this
time, was worth about twelve shillings of our money.]

[Footnote 20: The same word as the French _Étrennes_.]

Now, about the year 461, the Emperor Leo (successor of the brave soldier
Marcian), whether from a special emptiness in the Imperial treasury or
from some other cause, omitted to send the accustomed _strenae_ to the
Ostrogothic brother-kings. Much disturbed at the failure of the _aurei_
to appear, they sent envoys to Constantinople, who returned with tidings
which filled the three palaces of Pannonia with the clamour of angry
men. Not only were the _strenae_ withheld, and likely to be still
withheld, but there was another Goth, a low-born pretender, not of Amal
blood, who was boasting of the title of _fœderatus_ of the Empire, and
enjoying the _strenae_ which ought to come only to Amal kings and their
nobles. This man, who was destined to cross the path of our Theodoric
through many weary years, was named like him Theodoric, and was surnamed
Strabo (the squinter) from his devious vision, and son of Triarius, from
his parentage. He was brother-in-law, or nephew, of a certain Aspar, a
successful barbarian, who had mounted high in the Imperial service and
had placed two Emperors on the throne. It was doubtless through his
kinsman's influence that the squinting adventurer had obtained a
position in the court of the Roman Augustus so disproportioned to his
birth, and so outrageous to every loyal Ostrogoth.

When the news of these insults to the lineage of the Amals reached
Pannonia, the three brothers in fury snatched up their arms and laid
waste almost the whole province of Illyricum. Then the Emperor changed
his mind, and desired to renew the old friendship. He sent an embassy
bearing the arrears of the past-due _strenae_, those which were then
again falling due, and a promise that all future _strenae_ should be
punctually paid. Only, as a hostage for the observance of peace he
desired that Theudemir's little son, Theodoric, then just entering his
eighth year, should be sent to Constantinople. The fact that this
request or demand was made by the ostensibly beaten side, may make us
doubt whether the humiliation of the Empire was so complete as the
preceding sentences (translated from the words of the Gothic historian)
would lead us to suppose.

Theudemir was reluctant to part with his first-born son, even to the
great Roman Emperor. But his brother Walamir earnestly besought him not
to interpose any hindrance to the establishment of a firm peace between
the Romans and Goths. He yielded therefore, and the little lad, carried
by the returning ambassadors to Constantinople, soon earned the favour
of the Emperor by his handsome face and his winning ways.[21]

[Footnote 21: An expansion of the words of Jordanes, "et quia puerulus
elegans erat meruit gratiam imperialem habere".]

Thus was the young Ostrogoth brought from his home in Pannonia, by the
banks of lonely Lake Balaton, to the New Rome, the busy and stately city
by the Bosphorus, the city which was now, more truly than her worn and
faded mother by the Tiber, the "Lady of Kingdoms" the "Mistress of the
World". Of the Constantinople which the boyish eyes of Theodoric beheld,
scarcely a vestige now remains for the traveller to gaze upon. Let us
try, therefore, to find a contemporary description. These are the words
in which the visit of the Gothic chief Athanaric to that city about
eighty years previously is described by Jordanes:

"Entering the royal city, and marvelling thereat, 'Lo! now I behold,'
said he, 'what I often heard of without believing, the glory of so great
a city.' Then turning his eyes this way and that, beholding the
situation of the city and the concourse of ships, now he marvels at the
long perspective of lofty walls, then he sees the multitudes of various
nations like the wave gushing forth from one fountain which has been fed
by divers springs, then he beholds the marshalled ranks of the soldiery.
'A God,' said he, 'without doubt a God upon Earth is the Emperor of this
realm, and whoso lifts his hand against him, that man's blood be on his
own head."

Still can we behold "the situation of the city", that unrivalled
situation which no map can adequately explain, but which the traveller
gazes upon from the deck of his vessel as he rounds Seraglio Point, and
the sight of which seems to bind together in one, two continents of
space and twenty-five centuries of time. On his right hand Asia with
her camels, on his left Europe with her railroads. Behind him are the
Sea of Marmora and the Dardanelles, with their memories of Lysander and
Ægospotami, of Hero, Leander, and Byron, with the throne of Xerxes and
the tomb of Achilles, and farther back still the island-studded
Archipelago, the true cradle of the Greek nation. Immediately in front
of him is the Golden Horn, now bridged and with populous cities on both
its banks, but the farther shore of which, where Pera and Galata now
stand, was probably covered with fields and gardens when Theodoric
beheld it. There also in front of him, but a little to the right, comes
rushing down the impetuous Bosphorus, that river which is also an arm of
the sea. Lined now with the marble palaces of bankrupt Sultans, it was
once a lonely and desolate strait, on whose farther shore the hapless
Io, transformed into a heifer, sought a refuge from her heaven-sent
tormentor. Up through its difficult windings pressed the adventurous
mariners of Miletus in those early voyages which opened up the Euxine to
the Greeks, as the voyage of Columbus opened up the Atlantic to the
Spaniards. It is impossible now to survey the beautiful panorama without
thinking of that great inland sea which, as we all know, begins but a
few miles to the north of the place where we are standing, and whose
cloudy shores are perhaps concealing in their recesses the future lords
of Constantinople. We look towards that point of the compass, and think
of Sebastopol. The great lords of Theudemir's court, who brought the
young Theodoric to his new patron, may have looked northwards too,
remembering the sagas about the mighty Hermanric, who dwelt where now
the Russians dwell, and the fateful march of the terrible Huns across
the shallows of the Sea of Azof.

The great physical features of the scene are of course unchanged, but
almost everything else, how changed by four centuries and a half of
Ottoman domination! The first view of Stamboul, with its mosques, its
minarets, its latticed houses, its stream of manifold life both
civilised and barbarous, flowing through the streets, is delightful to
the traveller; but if he be more of an archaeologist than an artist, and
seeks to reproduce before his mind's eye something of the Constantinople
of the Cæsars rather than the Stamboul of the Sultans, he will
experience a bitter disappointment in finding how little of the former
is left.

He may still see indeed the land-ward walls of the city, and a most
interesting historical relic they are.[22] They stretch for about four
miles, from the Sea of Marmora to the Golden Horn. It is still,
comparatively speaking, all city inside of them, all country on the
outside. There is a double line of walls with towers at frequent
intervals, some square, some octagonal, and deep fosses running along
beside the walls, now in spring often bright green with growing corn.
These walls and towers, seen stretching up hill and down dale, are a
very notable feature in the landscape, and ruinous and dismantled as
they are after fourteen centuries of siege, of earthquake, and of
neglect, they still help us vividly to imagine what they must have
looked like when the young Theodoric beheld them little more than ten
years after their erection.[23]

[Footnote 22: For the fact that these walls are still visible we have to
thank the good offices of a recent British ambassador, I believe Lord
Stratford de Redcliffe. The Sultana Validé (Sultan's mother) had
obtained from her son an order to pull down the walls, and sell the
materials for the benefit of her privy purse. The ambassador, however,
protested against this act of Ottomanism (rather than Vandalism), and
the walls were saved.]

[Footnote 23: The walls of Constantinople were first built in 412, but
having been much injured by an earthquake were rebuilt (we are told in
the short space of sixty days) by the Prefect of the City, Constantine,
at the command of Theodosius II. This rebuilding, which was partly due
to the terror caused by Attila, took place in the year 447.]

Of the gates, some six or seven in number, two are especially
interesting to us. The first is the Tep-Kapou (Cannon Gate), or Porta
Sancti Romani. This was the weakest part of the fortifications of
Constantinople, the "heel of Achilles", as it has been well called,[24]
and here the last Roman Emperor of the East, Constantine Palaeologus,
died bravely in the breach for the cause of Christianity and
civilisation, The other gate is the Porta Aurea, a fine triple gateway,
the centre arch of which rests on two Corinthian pilasters. Through this
gateway--the nearest representative of the Capitoline Hill at Rome--the
Eastern Emperors rode in triumphant procession when a new Augustus had
to be proclaimed, or when an enemy of the Republic had been defeated. It
is possible that Theodoric may have seen Anthemius, the Emperor whom
Constantinople gave to Rome, ride forth through this gate (467) to take
possession of the Western throne: possible too that the great but
unsuccessful expedition planned by the joint forces of the East and West
against the Vandals of Africa may have had its ignominious failure
hidden from the people for a time by a triumphal procession through the
Golden Gate in the following year (468). This gate is now walled up, and
tradition says that the order for its closure was given by Mohammed, the
Conqueror, immediately after his entry into the city, through fear of an
old Turkish prophecy, which declared that through this gate the next
conquerors should enter Constantinople.

[Footnote 24: By Dr. Dethier. "Bosphore et Constantinople", p. 51.]

Of the palace of the Emperor, into which the young Goth was ushered by
the eunuch-chamberlain, no vestige probably now remains. The Seraglio
has replaced the Palation, and is itself now abandoned to loneliness and
decay, being only the recipient of one annual visit from the Sultan,
when he goes in state to kiss the cloak of Mohammed. The great mosque of
St. Sophia on the right is a genuine and a glorious monument of Imperial
Constantinople, but not of Constantinople as Theodoric saw it. The
basilica, in which he probably listened with childish bewilderment to
many a sermon for or against the decrees of the council of Chalcedon,
was burnt down sixty years after his visit in the great Insurrection of
the "Nika", and the noble edifice in which ten thousand Mussulmans now
assemble to listen to the reading of the Koran, while above them the
Arabic names of the companions of the Prophet replace the mosaics of the
Evangelists, is itself the work of the great Emperor Justinian, the
destroyer of the State which Theodoric founded.

But almost between the Church of St. Sophia and the Imperial Palace lay
in old times the Great Hippodrome, centre of the popular life of the
capital, where the excited multitudes cheered with rapture, or howled in
execration, at the victory of the Blue or the Green charioteer; where
many a time the elevation or the deposition of an Emperor was
accomplished by the acclamations of the same roaring throng. Of this
Hippodrome we have still a most interesting memorial in the Atmeidan
(the Place of Horses), which, though with diminished area, still
preserves something of the form of the old racecourse. And here to this
day are two monuments on which the young hostage may have often gazed,
wondering at their form and meaning. The obelisk of Thothmes I., already
two thousand years old when Constantinople was founded, was reared in
the Hippodrome, by order of the great Emperor Theodosius, and some of
the bas-reliefs on its pedestal still explain to us the mechanical
devices by which it was lifted into position, while in others
Theodosius, his wife, his sons, and his colleague sit in solemn state,
but, alas! with grievously mutilated countenances. Near it is a spiral
column of bronze which, almost till our own day, bore three serpents
twined together, whose heads long ago supported a golden tripod. This
bronze monument is none other than the votive offering to the temple of
Apollo at Delphi, presented by the confederated states of Greece, to
celebrate the victory of Platæa. The golden tripod was melted down at
the time of Philip of Macedon, but the twisted serpents, brought by
Constantine to adorn and hallow his new capital by the Bosphorus, bore
and still bear the names, written in archaic characters, of all the
Hellenic states which took part in that great deliverance.

All these monuments are on the first of the seven hills on which
Constantinople is built. On the second hill stands a strange and
blackened pillar, which once stood in the middle of the Forum of
Constantine; and this too was there in the days of Theodoric. It is
called the Burnt Column, because it has been more than once struck by
lightning, and is blackened with the smoke of the frequent fires which
have consumed the wooden shanties at its base. But

        "there it stands, as stands a lofty mind,
    Worn, but unstooping to the baser crowd".

It was once 150 feet high, but is now 115, and it consists of six huge
cylinders of porphyry, one above another, whose junction is veiled by
sculptured laurel wreaths. On its summit stood the statue of Constantine
with the garb and attributes of the Grecian Sun-God, but having his head
surrounded with the nails of the True Cross, brought from Jerusalem to
serve instead of the golden rays of far-darting Apollo. Underneath the
column was placed (and remains probably to this day) the Palladium, that
mysterious image of Minerva, which Æneas carried from Troy to Alba
Longa, which his descendants removed to Rome, and which was now brought
by Constantine to his new capital, so near to its first legendary home,
to be the pledge of abiding security to the city by the Bosphorus.

These are the chief relics of Constantinople in the fifth century which
are still visible to the traveller. I have described with some little
detail the outward appearance of the city and its monuments, because
these would naturally be the objects which would most attract the
attention of a child brought from such far different scenes into the
midst of so stately a city. But during the ten or eleven years that
Theodoric remained in honourable captivity at the court of Leo, while he
was growing up from childhood to manhood, it cannot be doubted that he
gradually learned the deeper lessons which lay below the glory and the
glitter of the great city's life, and that the knowledge thus acquired
in those years which are so powerful in moulding character, had a mighty
influence on all his subsequent career.

He saw here for the first time, and by degrees he apprehended, the
results of that state of _civilitas_ which in after years he was to be
constantly recommending to his people. Sprung from a race of hunters and
shepherds, having slowly learned the arts of agriculture, and then
perhaps partly unlearned them under the over-lordship of the nomad Huns,
the Ostrogoths at this time knew nothing of a city life. A city was
probably in their eyes little else than a hindrance to their freebooting
raids, a lair of enemies, a place behind whose sheltering walls, so hard
to batter down, cowards lurked in order to sally forth at a favourable
moment and attack brave men in their rear. At best it was a
treasure-house, which valiant Goths, if Fortune favoured them, might
sack and plunder: but Fortune seldom did favour the children of Gaut in
their assaults upon the fenced cities of the Empire.

Now, however, the lad Theodoric began to perceive, as the man Ataulfus
had perceived before him, that the city life upon which all the proverbs
and the songs of his countrymen poured contempt, had its advantages. To
the New Rome came the incessant ships of Alexandria, bringing corn for
the sustenance of her citizens. Long caravans journeyed over the
highlands of Asia Minor loaded with the spices and jewels of India and
the silks of China. Men of every conceivable Asiatic country were drawn
by the irresistible attraction of hoped-for profit to the quays and the
Fora of Byzantium. The scattered homesteads of the Ostrogothic farmers
had no such wonderful power of drawing men over thousands of miles of
land and sea to visit them. Then the bright and varied life of the
Imperial City could not fail to fill the boy's soul with pleasure and
admiration. The thrill of excitement in the Hippodrome as the two
charioteers, Green and Blue, rounded the _spina_, neck and neck, the
tragedies acted in the theatre amid rapturous applause, the strange
beasts from every part of the Roman world that roared and fought in the
Amphitheatre, the delicious idleness of the Baths, the chatter and
bargaining and banter of the Forum,--all this made a day in beautiful
Constantinople very unlike a day in the solemn and somewhat rude palace
by Lake Balaton.

As the boy grew to manhood, the deep underlying cause of this difference
perhaps became clearer to his mind. He could see more or less plainly
that the soul which held all this marvellous body of civilisation
together was reverence for Law. He visited perhaps some of the courts of
law; he may have seen the Illustrious Prætorian Prefect, clothed in
Imperial purple, move majestically to the judgment-seat, amid the
obsequious salutations of the dignified officials,[25] who in their
various ranks and orders surrounded the hall. The costly golden
reed-case, the massive silver inkstand, the silver bowl for the
petitions of suitors, all emblems of his office, were placed solemnly
before him, and the pleadings began. Practised advocates arose to plead
the cause of plaintiff or defendant; busy short-hand writers took notes
of the proceedings; at length in calm and measured words the Prefect
gave his judgment; a judgment which was necessarily based on law, which
had to take account of the sayings of jurisconsults, of the stored-up
wisdom of twenty generations of men; a judgment which, notwithstanding
the venality which was the curse of the Empire, was in most instances in
accordance with truth and justice. How different, must Theodoric often
have thought, in after years, when he had returned to Gothland,--how
different was this settled and orderly procedure from the usage of the
barbarians. With them the "blood-feud", the "wild justice of revenge",
often prolonged from generation to generation, had been long the chief
righter of wrongs done; and if this was now slowly giving place to
judicial trial, that trial was probably a coarse and almost lawless
proceeding, in which the head man of the district, with a hundred
assessors, as ignorant as himself, amid the wild cries of the opposed
parties, roughly fixed the amount of blood-money to be paid by a
murderer, or decided at hap-hazard, often with an obvious reference to
the superior force at the command of one or other of the litigants, some
obscure dispute as to the ownership of a slave or the right to succeed
to a dead man's inheritance.

[Footnote 25: Officium, or Militia Literata.]

Law carefully thought out, systematised, and in the main softened and
liberalised, from generation to generation, was the great gift of the
Roman Empire to the world, and by her strong, and uniform, and, in the
main, just administration of this law, that Empire had kept, and in the
days of Theodoric was still keeping, her hold upon a hundred jarring
nationalities. What hope was there that the German intruders into the
lands of the Mediterranean could ever vie with this great achievement?
Yet if they could not, if it was out of their power to reform and
reinvigorate the shattered state, if they could only destroy and not
rebuild, they would exert no abiding influence on the destinies of
Europe.

I do not say that all these thoughts passed at this time through the
mind of Theodoric, but I have no doubt that the germs of them were sown
by his residence in Constantinople. When he returned, a young man of
eighteen years and of noble presence to the palace of his father, he had
certainly some conception of what the Greeks meant when he heard them
talking about _politeia_, some foreshadowing of what he himself would
mean when in after days he should speak alike to his Goth and Roman
subjects of the blessings of _civilitas_.

[Illustration]




                             CHAPTER IV.


                      THE SOUTHWARD MIGRATION.

Struggles with the Swabians, Sarmatians, Scyri, and Huns--Death of
Walamir--Theudemir becomes king--Theodoric defeats Babai--The Teutonic
custom of the comitatus--An Ostrogothic Folc-mote--Theudemir invades the
Eastern Empire--Macedonian settlement of the Ostrogoths.


The young Theodoric, who was now in his nineteenth year, was sent back
by Leo to his father with large presents, and both the recovered son and
the tokens of Imperial favour brought joy to the heart of the father.
There had been some changes in the Ostrogothic kingdom during the boy's
absence. There had been vague and purposeless wars with the savage
nations around them,--Swabians, Sarmatians, Scyri--besides one final
encounter with their old lords, the Huns. These last, we are told, they
had driven forth so hopelessly beaten from their territory, that for a
century from that time all that was left of the Hunnish nation trembled
at the very name of the Goths. But in a battle with another people of
far less renown, the barbarous Scyri beyond the Danube, Walamir, while
cheering on his men to the combat, was thrown from his horse and being
pierced by the lances of the enemy was left dead on the field. His
death, it is said, was avenged most ruthlessly on the Scyri, and
Theudemir, the brother who was next him in age, became chief king of the
Ostrogoths.

Scarcely had Theodoric returned to his home when, without communicating
his purpose to his father, he distinguished himself by a gallant deed of
arms. On the south-east of the Ostrogothic kingdom, in the country which
we now call Servia, there reigned at this time a Sclavonic chief called
Babai, who was full of pride and self-importance because of a victory
which he had lately gained over the forces of the Empire. Theodoric had
probably heard at Constantinople the other side of this story: on his
journey to the north-west he had passed through those regions, and
marked the pride of the insolent barbarian. Sympathy with the humiliated
Empire, but, far more, the young warrior's desire at once to find "a
foeman worthy of his steel", and to win laurels for himself wherewith he
might surprise his father, drove him into his new enterprise. Having
collected some of his father's guardsmen, and those of his people with
whom he was personally popular, or who were dependent upon him, he thus
mustered a little army of six thousand men, with whom he crossed the
Danube.[26] Falling suddenly upon King Babai, he defeated and slew him,
took his family prisoners, and returned with large booty in slaves and
the rude wealth of the barbarian to his surprised but joyful father. The
result of this expedition was the capture of the important frontier city
of Singidunum (whose site is now occupied by Belgrade), a city which
Babai had wrested from the Empire, but which Theodoric, whatever may
have been his inclination to favour Constantinople, did not deem it
necessary to restore to his late host.

[Footnote 26: The words of Jordanes (which are important on account of
their bearing on the passage of Tacitus quoted below) are: "Ascitis
certis ex satellitibus patris et ex populo amatores sibi clientesque
consocians pæne sex mille viros cum quibus inscio patre emenso Danubio
super Babai Sarmatarum regem discurrit" (Getica, lv.).]

This incident of the early manhood of Theodoric is a good illustration
of the Teutonic custom which Tacitus describes to us under the name of
the _comitatus_, a custom which was therefore at least four centuries
old (probably far older) in the days of Theodoric, and which, lasting on
for several centuries longer, undoubtedly influenced if it did not
actually create the chivalry of the Middle Ages. The custom was so
important that it will be better to translate the very words of Tacitus
concerning it, though they occur in one of the best-known passages of
the "Germania".

"The Germans transact no business either of a public or private nature
except with arms in their hands. But it is not the practice for any one
to begin the wearing of arms until the State has approved his ability to
wield them. When that is done, in the great Council of the nation one
of the chiefs, perhaps the father or some near relation of the
candidate, equips the youth with shield and spear. This is with them
like the _toga virilis_ with us, the first dignity bestowed on the young
man. Before this he was looked upon as part of his father's
household--now he is a member of the State. Eminently noble birth, or
great merit on the part of their fathers, assigns the dignity of a
chief[27] even to very young men. They are admitted to the fellowship of
other youths stronger than themselves, and already tried in war, nor do
they blush to be seen among the henchmen.[28] There is a gradation in
rank among the henchmen, determined by the judgment of him whom they
follow, and there is a great emulation among the henchmen, who shall
have the highest place under the chief, and among the chiefs who shall
have the most numerous and the bravest henchmen. This is their dignity,
this their strength, to be ever surrounded by a band of chosen youths,
an honour in peace, a defence in battle. And not only in his own nation,
but among the surrounding states also, each chief's name and glory are
spread abroad according to the eminence of his 'train of henchmen'[29]
in number and valour. Chiefs thus distinguished are in request for
embassies, are enriched with costly presents, and often they decide a
war by the mere terror of their name".

[Footnote 27: Dignationem principis; the true rendering of this sentence
is very doubtful.]

[Footnote 28: I think upon the whole "henchmen" is the best translation
of this difficult word "comites", "Companions" is too indefinite;
"comrades" implies too much equality with the chief.]

[Footnote 29: Comitatus.]

"When they stand on the battle-field, it is held a disgraceful thing for
the chief to be surpassed in bravery by his henchmen, for the henchmen
not to equal the valour of their chief. Now too it will mark a man as
infamous, and a target for the scorn of men for all the rest of his
life, if he escapes alive from the battle-field where his chief needed
his help. To defend _him_, the chief; to guard _his_ person; to reckon
up one's own brave deeds as enhancing _his_ glory: this is the
henchman's one great oath of fealty.[30] The chiefs fight for victory,
the henchmen for their chief. If the state in which they are born should
be growing sluggish through ease and a long peace, most of the noble
young men seek of their own accord those nations which are then waging
war, both because a quiet life is hateful to this people, and because
they can more easily distinguish themselves in perilous times, nor can
they keep together a great train of henchmen, except by war and the
strong hand. For it is from the generosity of their chief that each
henchman expects that mighty war-horse which he would bestride, that
gory and victorious spear, which he would brandish. Banquets, too, and
all the rough but plentiful appliances of the feast are taken as part of
the henchman's pay; and the means of supplying all this prodigality must
be sought by war and rapine. You would not so easily persuade them to
plough the fields and wait in patience for a year's harvest, as to
challenge an enemy and earn honourable wounds; since to them it seems
always a slow and lazy process to accumulate by the sweat of your brow
what you might win at once by the shedding of blood".

[Footnote 30: Præcipuum sacramentum.]

These words of Tacitus, written in the year 98 after Christ, describe
with wonderful exactness the state of Ostrogothic society in the year
472. We are not expressly told of Theodoric's assumption of the shield
and spear in the great Council of the nation, but probably this ceremony
immediately followed his return from Constantinople. Then we see the
gathering together of the band of henchmen, the sudden march away from
the peaceful land, growing torpid through two or three years of
warlessness, the surprise of the Sclavonic king, the copious effusion of
blood which was the preferred alternative to the sweat of the
land-tiller, the return to the young chief's own land with spoils
sufficient to support perhaps for many months the "generosity" expected
by the henchmen.

There is one point, however, in which the description of the Germans
given by Tacitus is probably not altogether applicable to the Goths of
the fifth century: and that is, their invincible preference for the life
of the warrior over that of the agriculturist. There are some
indications that the Germans, when Tacitus wrote, had not long exchanged
the nomadic life of a nation of shepherds and herdsmen (such as was led
by the earlier generations of the Israelitish people) for the settled
life which alone is consistent with the pursuits of the tiller of the
soil. Hence the roving instinct was still strong within them, and this
roving instinct easily allied itself with the thirst for battle and the
love of the easy gains of the freebooter. Four centuries, however, of
agriculture and of neighbourhood to the great civilised stable Empire of
Rome had apparently wrought some change in the Goths and in many of the
other Teutonic nations. The work of agriculture was now not altogether
odious in their eyes; they knew something of the joys of the husbandman
as well as of the joys of the warrior; they began to feel something of
that "land-hunger" which is the passion of a young, growing, industrious
people. Still, however, the songs of the minstrels, the sagas of the
bards, the fiery impulses of the young _princeps_ surrounded by his
_comitatus_ pointed to war as the only occupation worthy of freemen.
Hence we can perceive a double current in the ambitions of these nations
which often perplexes the historian now, as it evidently then perplexed
their mighty neighbour, the Roman Augustus, and the generals and lawyers
who counselled him in his consistory. Sometimes the Teutonic king is
roused by some real or imagined insult; the minstrels sing their
battle-songs; the fiery henchmen gather round their chief; the barbarian
tide rolls over the frontier of the Empire: it seems as if it must be a
duel to the death between civilisation and its implacable foes. Then
suddenly

                       "he sinks
    To ashes who was very fire before".

Food, not glory, seems to be the supreme object of the Teuton's
ambition. He begs for land, for seed to sow in it, for a legal
settlement within the limits of the Empire. If only these necessary
things are granted to him, he promises, and not without intending to
keep his promise, to be a peaceable subject, yes and a staunch defender,
of the Roman Augustus. Had the Imperial statesmen truly understood this
strange duality of purpose in the minds of their barbarian visitors, and
had they set themselves loyally and patiently to foster the peaceful
agricultural instincts of the Teuton, haply the Roman Empire might still
be standing. As it was, the statesmen of the day, men of temporary
shifts and expedients, living only as we say "from hand to mouth", saw,
in the changing moods of the Germans, only the faithlessness of
barbarism, which they met with the faithlessness of civilisation, and
between the two the Empire--which no one really wished to destroy--was
destroyed.

Even such a change it was which now came over the minds of the
Ostrogothic people. There was dearth in Pannonia, partly, perhaps, the
consequence of the frequent wars with the surrounding nations which had
occurred during the twenty years of the Ostrogothic settlement. But even
the cessation of those wars brought with it a loss of income to the
warrior class. As the Gothic historian expresses it: "From the
diminution of the spoils of the neighbouring nations the Goths began to
lack food and clothing, and to those men to whom war had long furnished
all their sustenance peace began to be odious, and all the Goths with
loud shouts approached their king Theudemir praying him to lead his
army whither he would, but to lead it forth to war".

Here again it can hardly be doubted that Jordanes, writing about the
fifth century, describes for us the same state of things as Tacitus
writing about the first, and that this loudly shouted demand of the
people for war was expressed in one of those national assemblies--the
"Folc-motes" or "Folc-things" of Anglo-Saxon and German history--which
formed such a real limitation to the power of the early Teutonic kings.
"Concerning smaller matters", says Tacitus,[31] "the chiefs deliberate;
concerning greater matters, the whole nation; but in such wise that even
those things which are in the power of the commonalty are discussed in
detail by the chiefs. They come together, unless any sudden and
accidental emergency have arisen, on fixed days determined by the new or
full moon; for these times they deem the most fortunate for the
transaction of business. An ill consequence flowing from their freedom
is their want of punctuality in assembling; often two or three days are
spent in waiting for the loiterers. When the crowd chooses, they sit
down, arrayed in their armour (and commence business). Silence is called
for by the priests, who have then the power even of keeping order by
force. Then the king or one of the chiefs begins to speak, and is
listened to in right either of his age, or his noble birth, or his glory
in the wars, or his eloquence. In any case, he rather persuades than
commands; not power, but weight of character procures the assent of his
hearers."

[Footnote 31: Germania, xi.]

"If they mislike his sentiments they express their contempt for them by
groans, if they approve, they clash their spears together. Applause thus
expressed by arms is the greatest tribute that can be paid to a
speaker".

Before such an assembly of the nation in arms, the question, not of
Peace or War? but of War with whom? was debated. It was decided that the
Empire should be the victim, and that East and West alike should feel
the heavy hand of the Ostrogoths. The lot was cast (so said the national
legend),[32] and it assigned to Theudemir the harder but, as it seemed,
more profitable task of warring against Constantinople, while his
younger brother Widemir was to attack Rome.

Of Widemir's movements there is little to tell. He died in Italy, not
having apparently achieved any brilliant exploits, and his son and
namesake was easily persuaded to turn aside into Gaul, where he joined
his forces to those of the kindred Visigoths, and became absorbed in
their flourishing kingdom. This branch of Amal royalty henceforward
bears no fruit in history.

More important, at any rate in its ultimate consequences, was the march
of Theudemir and his people into the dominions of the Eastern Cæsar.
They crossed the Save, and by their warlike array terrified into
acquiescence the Sclavonic tribes which were settled in the
neighbourhood of Belgrade.

[Footnote 32: Kopke "Anfange des Konigthums", (p. 146) throws doubt on
this story of the decision by lot, and there seems something to be said
on his side.]

Having pushed up the valley of the Morava, they captured the important
city of Naissus (now Nisch), "the first city of Illyricum". Here
Theudemir tarried for a space, sending on his son with a large and eager
_comitatus_ farther up the valley of the Morava. They reached the head
of that valley, they crossed the watershed and the plain of Kossova, and
descended the valley of the Vardar. Monastir in Macedonia, Larissa in
Thessaly were taken and sacked; and a way having thus been made by these
bold invaders into the heart of the Empire, a message was sent to
Theudemir, inviting him to undertake the siege of Thessalonica. Leaving
a few guards in Naissus, the old king moved southward with the bulk of
his army, and was soon standing with his men before the walls of the
Macedonian capital. The Patrician Hilarianus held that city with a
strong force, but when he saw it regularly invested by the Goths and an
earthen rampart drawn all round it, he lost heart, and, despairing of a
successful resistance, opened negotiations with the besiegers. The
result of these negotiations (accompanied by handsome presents to the
king) was that Theudemir abandoned the siege, resumed the often adopted,
perhaps never wholly abandoned, position of a _fœderatus_ or sworn
auxiliary of the Empire, and received for himself and his people the
unquestioned possession of six towns[33] and the surrounding country by
the north-east corner of the Ægean, where the Vardar discharges itself
into the Thermaic Gulf.

[Footnote 33: The best known of these towns are Pella, Pydna, and
Bercea.]

Thus ingloriously, thus unprofitably ended the expedition into Romania,
which had been proposed amid such enthusiastic applause at the great
Council of the nation, and pressed with such loud acclamations and such
brandishing of defiant spears upon the perhaps reluctant Theudemir. The
Ostrogoths in 472 were an independent people, practically supreme in
Pannonia. Those broad lands on the south and west of the Danube, rich in
corn and wine, the very kernel of the Austrian monarchy of to-day, were
theirs in absolute possession. Any tie of nominal dependence which
attached Pannonia to the Empire was so merely theoretical, now that the
Hun had ruled and ravaged it for a good part of a century, that it was
not worth taking into consideration; it was in fact rather an excuse for
claiming _stipendia_ from the Emperor than a bond of real vassalage. But
now in 474 this great and proud nation, crowded into a few cities of
Macedonia, with obedient subjects of the Empire all round them, had
practically no choice between the life of peaceful provincials on the
one hand and that of freebooters on the other. If they accepted the
first, they would lose year by year something of their old national
character. The Teutonic speech, the Teutonic customs would gradually
disappear, and in one or two generations they would be scarcely
distinguishable from any of the other oppressed, patient, tax-exhausted
populations of the great and weary Empire. On the other hand, if they
accepted (which in fact they seem to have done) the other alternative,
and became a mere horde of plunderers wandering up and down through the
Empire, seeking what they might destroy, they abandoned the hope of
forming a settled and stable monarchy, and, doing injustice to the high
qualities and capacities for civilisation which were in them, they would
sink lower into the depths of barbarism, and becoming like the Hun, like
the Hun they would one day perish. Certainly, so far, the tumultuous
decision of the Parliament on the shores of Lake Pelso was a false step
in the nation's history.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]




                            CHAPTER V.


                         STORM AND STRESS.

Death of Theudemir, and accession of Theodoric--Leo the Butcher--The
Emperor Zeno--The march of Theodoric against the son of Trianus--His
invasion of Macedonia--Defeat of his rear guard--His compact with the
Emperor.


The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man
is healthy, but there is a space of life between, in which the soul is
in a ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain, the
ambition thick-sighted.--(KEATS, Preface to "Endymion".)

The sentence thus written by the sensitive young poet, a child of London
of the nineteenth century, was eminently exemplified in the history of
the martial chief of the Ostrogoths. The next fourteen years in the life
of Theodoric, which will be described in this chapter, were years of
much useless endeavour, of marches and countermarches, of alliances
formed and broken, of vain animosities and vainer reconciliations, years
in which Theodoric himself seems never to understand his own purpose,
whether it shall be under the shadow of the Empire or upon the ruins of
the Empire, that he will build up his throne. Take the map of what is
now often called "the Balkan peninsula", the region in which these
fourteen years were passed; look at the apparently purpose, less way in
which the mountain ranges of Hæmus, Rhodope, and Scardus cross,
intersect, run parallel, approach, avoid one another; look at the
strange entanglement of passes and watersheds and table-lands which
their systems display to us. Even such as the ranges among which he was
manœuvring--perplexed, purposeless, and sterile--was the early manhood
of Theodoric.

About 474, soon after the great Southward migration, Theudemir died at
Cyrrhus in Macedonia, one of the new settlements of the Ostrogoths. When
he was attacked by his fatal sickness he called his people together and
pointed to Theodoric as the heir of his royal dignity. Kingship at this
time among the Germanic nations was not purely hereditary, the consent
of the people being required even in the most ordinary and natural cases
of succession, such as that of a first-born son, full grown and a tried
soldier succeeding to an aged father. In such cases, however, that
consent was almost invariably given. Theodoric, at any rate, succeeded
without disputes to the doubtful and precarious position of king of the
Ostrogoths.

Almost at the same time a change was being made by death in the wearer
of the Imperial diadem. In order to illustrate the widely different
character of the Roman and the Gothic monarchies it will be well to
cease for a little time to follow the fortunes of Theodoric and to
sketch the history of Leo, the dying Emperor, and of Zeno, who succeeded
him.

Leo I., who reigned at Constantinople from 457 to 474, and who was
therefore Emperor during the whole time that Theodoric dwelt there as
hostage, was not, as far as we can ascertain, a man of any great
abilities in peace or war, or originally of very exalted station. But he
was "curator" or steward in the household of Aspar, the successful
barbarian adventurer who has been already alluded to.[34] As an Arian by
religion, and a barbarian, or the son of a barbarian, by birth, Aspar
could not himself assume the diadem, but he could give it to whom he
would, and Leo the steward was the second of his dependants whom he had
thus honoured. Once placed upon the throne, however, Leo showed himself
less obsequious to his old master than was expected. The post of Prefect
of the City became vacant; Aspar suggested for the office a man who,
like himself, was tainted with the heresy of Arius. At the moment Leo
promised acquiescence, but immediately repented, and in the dead of
night privately conferred the important office on a Senator who
professed the orthodox faith. Aspar in a rage laid a rough hand on the
Imperial purple, saying to Leo: "Emperor! it is not fitting that one who
wears this robe should tell lies". Leo answered with some spirit:
"Neither is it fitting that an Emperor should be bound to do the bidding
of any of his subjects, and so injure the State".

[Footnote 34: See p. 36.]

After this encounter there were thirteen years of feud between
King-maker and King, between Aspar and Leo. At length in 471 Aspar and
his three valiant sons fell by the swords of the Eunuchs of the Palace.
The foul and cowardly deed was perhaps marked by some circumstances of
especial cruelty, which earned for Leo the title by which he was long
after remembered in Constantinople, "The Butcher".[35]

[Footnote 35: Leo Macellus.]

In order to strengthen himself against the adherents of Aspar, Leo
cultivated the friendship of a set of wild, uncouth mountaineers, who at
this time played the same part in Constantinople which the Swiss of the
Middle Ages played in Italy. These were the Isaurians, men from the
rugged highlands of Pisidia, whose lives had hitherto been chiefly spent
either in robbing or in defending themselves from robbery. At their head
was a man named Tarasicodissa,--probably well born, if a chieftain from
the Isaurian highlands could be deemed to be well born by the
contemptuous citizens of Constantinople, no soldier, for we are told
that even the picture of a battle frightened him, but a man whom the
other Isaurians seem to have followed with clannish loyalty, like that
which the Scottish Camerons showed even to the wily and unwarlike Master
of Lovat.

With Tarasicodissa therefore the Emperor Leo entered into a compact of
mutual defence. The Isaurian dropped his uncouth name and assumed the
classical and philosophical-sounding name of Zeno; he received the hand
of Ariadne, daughter of the Emperor, in marriage, and as Leo had no male
offspring, the little Leo, offspring of this marriage and therefore
grandson of the aged Emperor, was, in this monarchy which from elective
was ever becoming more strictly hereditary, generally accepted as his
probable successor.

As it had been planned so it came to pass. Leo the Butcher died (3d Feb.
474); the younger Leo, a child of seven years old, was hailed by Senate
and People as his successor: Zeno came at the head of a brilliant train
of senators, soldiers, and magistrates, to "adore" the new Emperor, and
the child, carefully instructed by his mother in the part which he had
to play, placed on the bowed head of his father the Imperial diadem.
This act of "association" as it was called, generally practised upon a
son or nephew by a veteran Emperor anxious to be relieved from some of
the cares of reigning, required to be ratified by the acclamations of
the soldiery; but no doubt these acclamations, which could generally be
purchased by a sufficiently liberal donative, were not wanting on this
occasion. Zeno, otherwise called Tarasicodissa the Isaurian, was now
Emperor, and nine months after, when his child-partner died, he became
sole ruler of the Roman world, except in so far as his dignity might be
considered to be shared by the phantom Emperors of the West, who at this
time were dethroning and being dethroned with fatal rapidity at Rome
and Ravenna.

Thus mean and devious were the paths by which an adventurer could climb
in the fifth century to that which was still looked upon as the pinnacle
of earthly greatness. For however unworthy a man might feel himself to
be, and however unworthy all his subjects might know him to be of the
highest place in the Empire, when once he had obtained it his power was
absolute and the honours rendered to him were little less than divine.
All laws were passed by his "sacred providence"; all officers, military
and civil, received their authority from him. In the edicts which he put
forth to the world he spoke of himself as "My Eternity", "My Mildness",
"My Magnificence", and of course these expressions, or, if it were
possible, expressions more adulatory than these, were used by his
subjects when they laid their petitions at the footstool of "the sacred
throne". He lived, withdrawn from vulgar eyes, in the innermost recesses
of the palace, a sort of Holy of Holies behind the first and the second
veil. A band of pages, in splendid dress, waited upon his bidding;
thirty stately _silentiarii_, with helmets and brightly burnished
cuirasses, marched backwards and forwards before the second veil, to see
that no importunate petitioner disturbed the silence of "the sacred
cubicle". On the comparatively rare occasions when he showed himself to
his subjects, he wore upon his head the diadem, a band of white linen,
in which blazed the most precious jewels of the Empire. Hung round his
shoulders and reaching down to his feet was that precious purple robe,
for the sake of which so many crimes were committed, and which often
proved itself a very "garment of Nessus" to him who dared to assume it
without force sufficient to render his usurpation legitimate. On the
feet of the Emperor were buskins which, like the diadem, were studded
with precious stones, and like the robe were dyed with the Imperial
purple. Thus gorgeously arrayed he took his place in the _podium,_ the
royal box in the Amphitheatre, and from thence, while gazed upon by his
subjects, gazed himself upon the savage beast-fight, or in the
Hippodrome, with difficulty restraining his eagerness for the success of
the Blue or the Green faction, gave the sign for the chariot races to
begin. Or he sat surrounded by his court in the purple presence-chamber
to consult upon public affairs with his Consistory, a sort of Privy
Council, composed of the great ministers of state. Conspicuous among
these were the fifteen officers of highest rank, Generals, Judges, Grand
Chamberlains, Finance Ministers, who had each the right to be addressed
as "Illustrious". When any subject of the Emperor, were it one of these
Illustrious ones himself, were it the son or brother of his predecessor,
were it even a former patron, like Aspar, by whose favour he had been
selected to wear the purple, was admitted to an audience of "Augustus"
(that great name went as of right with the diadem), the etiquette of the
court required that he should not merely bow nor kneel, but absolutely
prostrate himself before the Sacred Majesty of the Emperor, who, if in a
gracious mood, then with outstretched hand raised him from the earth
and permitted him to kiss his knee or the fringe of his Imperial mantle.

To this dizzy height of greatness--for such, however small Marcian or
Leo or Zeno may now seem to us by the lapse of centuries, it was felt to
be by the contemporary generations--it was possible under the singular
combination of election and inheritance which regulated the succession
to the throne, for almost any citizen of the Empire, if not of barbarian
blood or heretical creed, to aspire. Diocletian, the second founder of
the Empire, was the son of a slave; Justinian--an even greater name--was
the nephew of a Macedonian peasant, who with a sheepskin bag containing
a week's store of biscuit, his only property, tramped down from his
native highlands to seek his fortune in the capital Zeno, as we have
seen, though perhaps better born than either Diocletian or Justinian,
was only a little Isaurian chieftain. Thus the possibilities open to
aspiring ambition were great in the Empire of the Cæsars. As any male
citizen of the United States, born between the St. Lawrence and the Rio
Grande, may one day be installed in the White House as President, so any
"Roman" and orthodox inhabitant of the Empire, whether noble, citizen,
or peasant, might flatter himself with the hope that he too should one
day wear the purple of Diocletian, be saluted as Augustus, and see
Prefects and Masters of the Soldiery prostrating themselves before "His
Eternity". This was, in a sense, the better, the democratic side of the
Roman monarchy. Power which was supposed to be conveyed by the will of
the people (as expressed by the acclamations of the army) might be
wielded by the arm of any member of that people. On the other hand there
was an evil in the habit thus engendered in men's minds, of humbling
themselves before mere power without regard to the manner of its
acquirement. When we compare the polity of Rome or Constantinople, where
a century was a long time for the duration of a dynasty, with the far
simpler polities of the Teutonic tribes which invaded the Empire, almost
all of whom had their royal houses, reaching back into and even beyond
the dawn of national history, supposed to be sprung from the loins of
the gods, and rendered illustrious by countless deeds of valour recorded
in song or saga, we see at once that in these ruder states we are in
presence of a principle which the Empire knew not, but which Mediæval
Europe knew and glorified, the principle of _Loyalty._ This principle,
the same that bound Bayard to the Valois, and Montrose to the Stuart,
has been, with all the follies and even crimes which it may have caused,
an element of strength and cohesion in the states which have arisen on
the ruins of the Roman Empire. The self-respecting but loving loyalty,
with which the Englishman of to-day cherishes the name of the descendant
of Cerdic, of Alfred, and of Edward Plantagenet, who wields the sceptre
of his country, is utterly unlike the slavish homage offered by the
adoring courtiers of Byzantium to the pinchbeck divinity of Zeno
Tarasicodissa.

Raised as Zeno had been to the throne by a mere palace intrigue, and
destitute as he was of any of the qualities of a great statesman or
general, it is no wonder that his reign, which lasted for seventeen
years, was continually disturbed by conspiracies and rebellions. In most
of these rebellions his mother-in-law, Verina, widow of Leo, an
ambitious and turbulent woman, played an important part.

It was only a year after Zeno's accession to sole power by the death of
his son (Nov., 475) when he was surprised by the outbreak of a
conspiracy, hatched by his mother-in-law, the object of which was to
place her brother Basiliscus on the throne. Zeno fled by night, still
wearing the Imperial robes which he had worn, sitting in the Hippodrome,
when the tidings reached him, and crossing the Bosphorus was soon in the
heart of Asia Minor, safe sheltered in his native Isauria.

From thence,(July, 477) after nearly two years of exile, he was by a
strange turn of the wheel of Fortune restored to his throne. Religious
bigotry (for Basiliscus did not belong to the party of strict orthodoxy)
and domestic jealousies and perfidies all contributed to this result.
Zeno, who had fled twenty months before from the Hippodrome, returned to
the Amphitheatre, and there, having commanded that the linen curtain
should be drawn over the circus to exclude the too piercing rays of the
July sun, gave the signal for the games to begin, while the populace
shouted in Latin the regular official congratulations on his elevation
and prayers for his continued triumph.[36]

[Footnote 36: "Zeno Imperator Tu Vincas", would be, as we know from
other similar instances, the most frequently uttered acclamation. It is
a curious instance of "survival" that this was always shouted in Latin,
though Greek was the vernacular tongue of the vast majority of the
inhabitants of Constantinople.]

Meanwhile his fallen rival, less fortunate than Zeno himself in planning
an escape, was crouching in the baptistery of the great Church of Saint
Sophia, whither with his wife and children he had fled for refuge. After
all the emblems of Imperial dignity had been rudely stripped from them,
Basiliscus was induced, by a promise from Zeno, "that their heads should
be safe", to come forth with his family from the sacred asylum. The
Emperor "kept the word of promise to the ear", since no executioner with
drawn sword entered the chamber of his rival. Basiliscus and they that
were with him were sent away to a remote fortress in Cappadocia. The
gate of the fortress was built up, a band of wild Isaurians guarded the
enclosure, suffering no man to enter or to leave it, and in that bleak
stronghold before long the fallen Emperor and Empress with their
children perished miserably of cold and hunger.

Theodoric, who was at this time settled with his people, not on the
shores of the Ægean, but in the region which we now call the Dobrudscha,
between the mouths of the Danube and the Black Sea, had zealously
espoused the cause of the banished Zeno, and lent an effectual hand in
the counter-revolution which restored him to the throne (478). For his
services in this crisis he was rewarded with the dignities of Patrician
and Master of the Soldiery, high honours for a barbarian of twenty-four;
and probably about this time he was also adopted as "_filius in arma_"
by the Emperor. What the precise nature of this adopted
"sonship-in-arms" may have been we are not able to say. It reminds us of
the barbarian customs which in the course of centuries ripened into the
mediæval ceremony of knighthood, and the whole transaction certainly
sounds more Ostrogothic than Imperial. Zeno's own son and namesake (the
offspring of a first marriage before his union with Ariadne) was
apparently dead before this time; and possibly therefore the title of
son thus conferred upon Theodoric may have raised in his heart wild
hopes that he too might one day be saluted as Roman Emperor. Any such
hopes were probably doomed to inevitable disappointment. Any other
dignity in the State, the "Roman Republic", as it still called itself,
was practically within reach of a powerful barbarian, but the diadem, as
has been already said, could in this age of the world, only be worn by
one of pure Roman, that is, non-barbarian, blood.

At this time, and for the next three years, the position of our
Theodoric, both towards the Emperor and towards his own people, was
sorely embarrassed by the position and the claims of the other, the
squinting Theodoric (son of Triarius), whom we met with seventeen years
ago, and whose receipt of _stipendia_ from the court of Constantinople,
at the very time when their own were withheld, raised the wrath of
Walamir and Theudemir. This Theodoric, it will be remembered, was of
unkingly, perhaps of quite ignoble, birth, had risen to greatness by
clinging to the skirts of Aspar, and had, so far as the Emperor's favour
was concerned, fallen with his fall. Shortly before the death of Leo he
had appeared in arms against the Empire, taking one city and besieging
another, and had forced the Emperor to concede to him high rank in the
army (that of General of the Household Troops,[37]) a subsidy of;
£80,000 a year for himself and his people, and lastly a remarkable
stipulation, "that he should be absolute ruler[38] of the Goths, and
that the Emperor should not receive any of them who were minded to
revolt from him". This strange article of the treaty shows us, on the
one hand, how thoroughly fictitious and illegitimate was _this_
Theodoric's claim to kinship; since assuredly neither Alaric, nor
Ataulfus, nor Theudemir, nor any of the genuine kings of the Goths, ever
needed to bolster up their authority over their subjects by any such
figment of an Imperial concession; and on the other hand, as it
coincides in date with the time of Theudemir's and _his_ Theodoric's
entrance into the Empire, it shows us the distracting influences to
which the large number of Gothic settlers south of the Danube, settled
there before Theudemir's migration, were exposed by that event. There
can be little doubt that the Goths who were minded to revolt from the
son of Triarius and who were not to be received into favour by the
Emperor, were Ostrogoths, still dimly conscious of the old tie which
bound them to the glorious house of Amala, and more than half disposed
to forsake the service of their squinting upstart chief in order to
follow the banners of the young hero, son of Theudemir.

[Footnote 37: Magister Equitum et Peditum Præsentalis.]

[Footnote 38: αΰτοκράτωρ]

Then came the death of Leo (478), Zeno's accession and the insurrection
of Basiliscus, in which the son of Triarius took part against the
Isaurian Emperor. Soon after this insurrection was ended and Zeno was
restored to his precarious throne, there came an embassy from the
_fœderati_ (as they called themselves) that is, from the unattached
Goths who followed the Triarian standard, begging Zeno to be reconciled
to their lord, and hinting that he was a truer friend to the Empire than
the petted and pampered son of Theudemir. After a consultation with "the
Senate and People of Rome", in other words, with the nobles of
Constantinople and the troops of the household, Zeno decided that to
take _both_ the Theodorics into his pay would be too heavy a charge on
the treasury; that there was no reason for breaking with the young Amal,
his ally, and therefore that the request of his rival must be refused.
Open war followed, consisting chiefly of devastating raids by the son of
Triarius into the valleys of Mœsia and Thrace. A message was sent to
Theodoric the Amal, who was dwelling quietly with his people by the
Danube. "Why are you lingering in your home? Come forth and do great
deeds worthy of a Master of Roman Soldiery". "But if I take the field
against the son of Triarius", was the answer, "I fear that you will make
peace with him behind my back". The Emperor and Senate bound themselves
by solemn oaths that he should never be received back into favour, and
an elaborate plan of campaign was arranged, according to which the Amal
marching with his host from Marcianople, (_Shumla_) was to be met by one
general with twelve thousand troops, on the southern side of the
Balkans, and by another with thirty thousand in the valley of the Hebrus
(_Maritza_).

But the Roman Empire, in its feeble and flaccid old age, seemed to have
lost all capacity for making war. Theodoric the Amal performed his share
of the compact; but when with his weary army, encumbered with many women
and children, he emerged from the passes of the Balkans he found no
Imperial generals there to meet him, but, instead, Theodoric the
Squinter with a large army of Goths encamped on an inaccessible hill.
Neither chief gave the signal for combat; perhaps both were restrained
by a reluctance to urge the fratricidal strife; but there were daily
skirmishes between the light-armed horsemen at the foraging grounds and
places for watering. Every day, too, the son of Triarius rode round the
hostile camp, shouting forth reproaches against his rival, calling him
"a perjured boy, a madman, a traitor to his race, a fool who could not
see whither the Imperial plans were tending. The Romans would stand by
and look quietly on while Goth wore out Goth in deadly strife". Murmurs
from the Amal's troops showed that these words struck home. Next day the
son of Triarius climbed a hill overlooking the camp, and again raised
his voice in bitter defiance. "Scoundrel! why are you leading so many of
my kinsmen to destruction? why have you made so many Gothic wives
widows? What has become of that wealth and plenty which they had when
they first took service with you? Then they had two or three horses
apiece; now without horses and in the guise of slaves, they are
wandering on foot through Thrace. But they are free-born men surely,
aye, as free-born as you are, and they once measured out the gold coins
of Byzantium with a bushel". When the host heard these words, all, both
men and women, went to their leader Theodoric the Amal, and claimed from
him with tumultuous cries that he should come to an accommodation with
the son of Tnarius. The proposal must have been hateful to the Amal. To
throw away the laboriously earned favour of the Emperor, to denude
himself of the splendid dignity of Master of the Soldiery, to leave the
comfortable home-like fabric of Imperial civilisation and go out again
into the barbarian wilderness with this insolent namesake who had just
been denouncing him as a perjured boy: all this was gall and wormwood to
the spirit of Theodoric. But he knew the conditions under which he held
his sovereignty--"king", as a recent French monarch expressed it, "by
the grace of God and the will of the people", and he did not attempt to
strive against the decision of his tumultuary parliament. He met his
elderly competitor, each standing on the opposite bank of a disparting
stream, and after speech had, they agreed that they would wage no more
war on one another but would make common cause against Byzantium.

The now confederated Theodorics sent an embassy to Zeno, bearing their
common demands for territory, _stipendia_ and rations for their
followers, and, in the case of Theodoric the Amal, charged with bitter
complaints of the desertion which had exposed him to such dangers. The
Emperor replied with an accusation (which appears to have been wholly
unfounded) that Theodoric himself had meditated treachery, and that
this was the reason why the Roman generals had feared to join their
forces to his. Still the Emperor was willing to receive him again into
favour if he would relinquish his alliance with the son of Triarius, and
in order to lure him back the ambassadors were to offer him 1,000
pounds' weight of gold (£40,000), 10,000 of silver (£35,000), a yearly
revenue of 10,000 _aurei_ (£6,000), and the daughter of Olybrius, one of
the noblest-born damsels of Byzantium, for his wife. But the Amal king,
having stooped so low as to make an alliance with the son of Triarius,
was not going to stoop lower by breaking it. The ambassadors returned to
Constantinople with their purpose unaccomplished, and Zeno began
seriously to prepare for the apparently inevitable war with all the
Gothic _fœderati_ in his land, commanded by both the Theodorics. He
summoned to the capital all the troops whom he could muster, and
delivered to them a spirited oration, in which he exhorted them to be of
good courage, declaring that he himself would go forth with them to war,
and would share all their hardships and dangers. For nearly a hundred
years, ever since the time of the great Theodosius, no Eastern Emperor
apparently had conducted a campaign in person; and the announcement that
this inactivity was to be ended and that a Roman Imperator was again,
like the Imperators of old time, to march with the legions and to
withstand the shock of battle, roused the soldiers to extraordinary
enthusiasm. The very men who, a little while before, had been bribing
the officers to procure exemption from service, now offered larger sums
of money in order to obtain an opportunity of distinguishing themselves
under the eyes of the Emperor. They pressed forward past the long wall
which at about sixty miles from Constantinople crossed the narrow
peninsula and defended the capital of the Empire; they caught some of
the forerunners of the Gothic host, the Uhlans, if we may call them so,
of Theodoric: everything foreboded an encounter, more serious and
perhaps more triumphant than any that had been seen since the days of
Theodosius. Then, as in a moment, all was changed. Zeno's old spirit of
sloth and cowardice returned. He would not undergo the fatigue of the
long marches through Thrace, he would not look upon the battle-field,
the very pictures of which he found so terrible; it was publicly
announced that the Emperor would not go forth to war. The soldiers,
enraged, began to gather in angry groups, rebuking one another for their
over-patience in submitting to be ruled by such a coward. "How? Are we
men, and have we swords in our hands, and shall we any longer bear with
such disgraceful effeminacy, by which the might of this great Empire is
sapped, so that every barbarian who chooses may carve out a slice from
it?"

These clamours were rapidly growing seditious, and in a few days an
anti-Emperor would probably have been proclaimed; but Zeno, more afraid
of his soldiers than even of the Goths, adroitly moved them into their
widely-scattered winter-quarters, leaving the invaded provinces to take
care of themselves for a little time, while he tried by his own natural
weapons of bribery and intrigue to detach the _other_ and older
Theodoric from the new confederacy.

On this path he met with unmerited success. The son of Triarius, who had
lately been uttering such noble sentiments about Gothic kinship, and the
folly of Gothic warriors playing into the hands of their hereditary
enemies, the crafty courtiers of Constantinople, soon came to terms with
the Emperor, and on receiving the command of two brigades of household
troops,(Scholse) his restoration to all the dignities which he had held
under Basiliscus, the military office which his rival had forfeited, and
rations and allowances for 13,000 of his followers, broke his alliance
with Theodoric the Amal, and entered the service of the Emperor of New
Rome.

Theodoric the Amal, who was now in his own despite (479) an outlaw from
the Roman State, burst in fierce wrath into Macedonia, into the region
where he and his people had been first quartered five years before.
Again he marched down the valley of the Vardar, he took Stobi, putting
its garrison to the sword, and threatened the great city of
Thessalonica. The citizens, fearing that Zeno would abandon them to the
barbarians, broke out into open sedition, threw down the statues of the
Emperor, took the keys of the city from the Prefect and entrusted them
to the safer keeping of their Bishop. Zeno sent ambassadors reproaching
the Amal for his ungrateful requital of the unexampled favours and
dignities which had been conferred upon him, and inviting him to return
to his old fidelity. Theodoric showed himself not unwilling to treat,
sent ambassadors to Constantinople, and ordered his troops to refrain
from murder and conflagration, and to take only the absolute necessaries
of life from the provincials. He then quitted the precincts of
Thessalonica and moved westwards to the city of Heraclea _(Monastir)_,
which lies at the foot of the great mountain range that separates
Macedonia from Epirus. While talking of peace he was already meditating
a new and brilliant stroke of strategy, but he was for some time
hindered from accomplishing it by the illness of his sister, who,
perhaps fatigued by the hardships of the march, had fallen sick in the
camp before Heraclea. This time of enforced delay was occupied by
negotiations with the Emperor. But the Emperor had really nothing to
offer worth the Ostrogoth's acceptance. A settlement on the Pantalian
plain, a bleak upland among the Balkans, about forty miles south of
Sardica _(Sofia)_, and a payment of two hundred pounds' weight of gold
(£8,000) as subsistence-money for the people till they should have had
time to till the land and reap their first harvest, this was all that
Zeno offered to the chief, who already in imagination saw the rich
cities of the Adriatic lying defenceless at his feet. For during this
time of inaction the Amal had opened communications with a Gothic
landowner, named Sigismund, who dwelt near Dyrrhachium _(Durazzo)_, and
was a man of influence in the province of Epirus; and Sigismund, though
nominally a loyal subject of the Emperor, was doing his best to sow
fear and discouragement in the hearts of the citizens of Dyrrhachium
and to prepare the way for the advent of his countrymen.

At length the Gothic princess died, and her brother, the Amal, having
vainly sought to put Heraclea to ransom (the citizens had retired to a
strong fortress which commanded it), burned the deserted city, a deed
more worthy of a barbarian than of one bred up in the Roman
Commonwealth. Then with all his nation-army he started off upon the
great Egnatian Way, which, threading the rough passes of Mount Scardus,
leads from Macedonia to Epirus, from the shores of the Ægean to the
shores of the Adriatic. His light horsemen went first to reconnoitre the
path; then followed Theodoric himself with the first division of his
army. Soas, his second in command, ordered the movements of the middle
host; last of all came the rear-guard, commanded by Theodoric's brother,
Theudimund, and protecting the march of the women, the cattle, and the
waggons. It was a striking proof both of their leader's audacity and of
his knowledge of the decay of martial spirit among the various garrisons
that lined the Egnatian Way, that he should have ventured with such a
train into such a perilous country, where at every turn were narrow
defiles which a few brave men might have held against an army.

The Amal and his host passed safely through the defiles of Scardus and
reached the fortress of Lychnidus overlooking a lake now known as Lake
Ochrida. Here Theodoric met with his first repulse. The fortress was
immensely strong by nature, was well stored with corn, and had
springing fountains of its own, and the garrison were therefore not to
be frightened into surrender. Accordingly, leaving the fortress untaken,
Theodoric with his two first divisions pushed rapidly across the second
and lower range, the Candavian Mountains, leaving Theudimund with the
waggons and the women to follow more slowly. In this arrangement there
was probably an error of judgment which Theodoric had occasion bitterly
to regret. For the moment, however, he was completely successful.
Descending into the plain he took the towns of Scampæ (_Elbassan_) and
Dyrrhachium (_Durazzo_), both of which, probably owing to the
discouraging counsels of Sigismund, seem to have been abandoned by their
inhabitants.

Great was the consternation at Edessa (a town about thirty miles west of
Thessalonica and the headquarters of the Imperial troops) when the news
of this unexpected march of Theodoric across the mountains was brought
into the camp. Not only the general-in-chief, Sabinianus, was quartered
there, but also a certain Adamantius, an official of the highest rank,
who had been charged by Zeno with the conduct of the negotiations with
Theodoric, and whose whole soul seems to have been set on the success of
his mission. He contrived to communicate with Theodoric, and advanced
with Sabinianus through the mountains as far as Lychnidus in order to
conduct the discussion at closer quarters. Propositions passed backwards
and forwards as to the terms upon which a meeting could be arranged.
Theodoric sent a Gothic priest; Adamantius in reply offered to come in
person to Dyrrhachium if Soas and another Gothic noble were sent as
hostages for his safe return. Theodoric was willing to send the hostages
if Sabinianus would swear that they should return in safety. This,
however, for some reason or other, the general surlily and stubbornly
refused to do, and Adamantius saw the earnestly desired interview fading
away into impossibility. At length, with courageous self-devotion, he
succeeded in finding a by-path across the mountains, which brought him
to a fort, situated on a hill and strengthened by a deep ditch, in sight
of Dyrrhachium. From thence he sent messengers to Theodoric earnestly
soliciting a conference; and the Amal, leaving his army in the plain,
rode with a few horsemen to the banks of the stream which separated him
from Adamantius' stronghold. Adamantius, too, to guard against a
surprise, placed his little band of soldiers in a circle round the hill,
and then descended to the stream, and with none to listen to their
speech, commenced the long-desired colloquy. How Adamantius may have
opened his case we are not informed, but the Ostrogoth's reply is worth
quoting word for word: "It was my choice to live altogether out of
Thrace, far away towards Scythia, where I should disturb no one by my
presence, and yet should be ready to go forth thence to do the Emperor's
bidding. But you having called me forth, as if for war against the son
of Tnarius, first of all promised that the General of Thrace should
immediately join me with his forces (he never appeared); and then that
Claudius, the Steward of the Goth-money,[39] should meet me with the
pay of the mercenaries (him I never saw); and thirdly, you gave me
guides for my journey, but what sort of guides? Men who, leaving
untrodden all the easier roads into the enemy's country, led me by a
steep path and along the sharp edges of cliffs, where, had the enemy
attacked us, travelling as we were bound to do with horsemen and waggons
and all the lumber of our camp, it had been a marvel if I and all my
folk had not been utterly destroyed. Hence I was forced to make such
terms as I could with the foes, and in fact I owe them many thanks that,
when you had betrayed and they might have consumed me, they nevertheless
spared my life".

[Footnote 39: Τόν τού Γοτθικού ταμίαν. Probably the _Gothicum_ was a
fund set apart for subsidising the Goths]

Adamantius went over the old story about the great benefits which the
Emperor had bestowed on Theodoric, the Patriciate, the Mastership, the
rich presents, and all the other evidences of his fatherly regard. He
attempted to answer the charges brought by Theodoric, but in this even
the Greek historian[40] who records the dialogue thinks that he failed.
With more show of reason he complained of the march across the mountains
and the dash into Epirus, while negotiations were proceeding with
Constantinople. He recommended him to make peace with the Empire while
it was in his power, and assuring him that he would never be allowed to
lord it over the great cities of Epirus nor to banish their citizens
from thence to make room for his people, again pressed him to accept the
Emperor's offer of "Dardania" (the Pantalian plain), "where there was
abundance of land, beside that which was already inhabited, a fair and
fertile territory lacking cultivators, which his people could till, so
providing themselves in abundance with all the necessaries of life".

[Footnote 40: Malchus of Philadelphia.]

Theodoric refused with an oath to take his toil-worn people who had
served him so faithfully, at that time of year (it was now perhaps
autumn) into Dardania. No! they must all remain in Epirus for the
winter; then if they could agree upon the rest of the terms he might be
willing in spring to follow a guide sent by the Emperor to lead them to
their new abode. But more than this, he was ready to deposit his baggage
and all his unwarlike folk in any city which the Emperor might appoint,
to give his mother and his sister as hostages for his entire fidelity,
and then to advance at once with ten thousand of his bravest warriors
into Thrace, as the Emperor's ally. With these men and the Imperial
armies now stationed in the Illyrian provinces, he would undertake to
sweep Thrace clear of all the Goths who followed the son of Triarius.
Only he stipulated that in that case he should be clothed with his old
dignity of Master of the Soldiery, which had been taken from him and
bestowed on his rival, and that he should be received into the
Commonwealth and allowed to live--as he evidently yearned to live--as a
Roman citizen.

Adamantius replied that he was not empowered to treat on such terms
while Theodoric remained in Epirus, but he would refer his proposal to
the Emperor, and with this understanding they parted one from the
other.

Meanwhile, important, and for the Goths disastrous, events had been
taking place in the Candavian mountains. Over these the rear-guard of
Theodoric's army, with the waggons and the baggage, had been slowly
making its way, in a security which was no doubt chiefly caused by the
facility of the previous marches, but to which the knowledge of the
negotiations going forward between King and Emperor may partly have
contributed. In any case, security was certainly insecure with such a
fort as Lychnidus untaken in their rear. The garrison of that fort had
been reinforced by many cohorts of the regular army who had flocked
thither at the general's signal, and with these Sabinianus prepared a
formidable ambuscade. He sent a considerable number of infantry round by
unfrequented paths over the mountains, and ordered them to take up a
commanding but concealed position, and to rush forth from thence at a
given signal. He himself started with his cavalry from Lychnidus at
nightfall, and rode rapidly along the Egnatian Way. At dawn the pursuing
horsemen attacked the Goths, who were just descending the last mountain
slopes into the plain. Theudimund, with his mother, was riding near the
head of the long line of march. Too anxious perhaps for her safety, and
fearing to meet the reproachful looks of Theodoric if aught of harm
happened to her, he hurried her across the last bridge, spanning a deep
defile, which intervened between the mountains and the plain, and then
broke down the bridge behind him to prevent pursuit. Pursuit was indeed
rendered impossible, and the mother of Theodoric was saved, but at what
a cost! The Goths turned back to fight, with the courage of despair, the
pursuing cavalry. At that moment the infantry in ambush, having received
the signal, began to attack them from the rocks above. The position was
a terrible one, and many brave men fell in the hopeless battle. Quarter,
however, was given by the Imperial soldiers, for we are told that more
than five thousand of the Goths were taken prisoners. The booty was
large; and all the waggons of the barbarians, two thousand in number,
were of course captured, but the soldiers, misliking the toil of
dragging them back over all those jagged passes to Lychnidus, burned
them there as they stood upon the Candavian mountains.

I have copied with some minuteness the account given us by the Greek
historian of this mountain march of Theodoric, because it brings before
us with more than usual vividness the conditions under which the
campaigns of the barbarians were conducted. It will have been noticed
that the Gothic army is not only an army but a nation, and that the
campaign is also a migration. The mother and the sister of Theodoric are
accompanying him. There is evidently a long train of non-combatants, old
men, women, and children, following the army in those two thousand
Gothic waggons. The character attributed by Horace to the

    Campestres Scythæ,
    Quorum plaustra vagas rite trahunt domos

still survives.

    "The waggon holds the Scythian's wandering home".

The Goth, a terrible enemy to those outside the pale of his kinship, is
a home-lover at heart, and even in war will not separate himself from
his wife and children. This makes his impact slow, his campaigns
unscientific. It prepares for him frequent defeats, such as that of the
Candavian mountains, which a celibate army would have avoided. But it
makes his conquests, when he does conquer, more enduring, while it
explains those perpetual demands for land, for a settlement within the
Empire, almost on any terms, with which, as was before shown, the
barbarian inroads so often close. We need not follow the tedious story
of the negotiations with Adamantius, which were interrupted by this
sudden success of the Imperial arms. In fact at this point our best
authority,[41] who has been unusually full and graphic for the events of
478 and 479, suddenly fails us, and we have scarcely anything but dry
and scanty annalistic notices for the next nine years of the life of
Theodoric. He seems not to have maintained his footing in Epirus, but to
have returned to the neighbourhood of the Danube, where he fought and
conquered the king of the Bulgarians, a fresh horde of barbarians who at
this time made their first appearance in "the Balkan peninsula" Whether
the much desired reconciliation with the Empire took place we know not.
It seems probable that this may have been the case, as in the year 481
we find his rival, the other Theodoric, in opposition, and planning an
invasion of Greece. But the career of the son of Triarius was about to
come to an untimely close. Marching westwards, he had reached a station
on the Egnatian Way, near the frontiers of Thrace and Macedonia, called
"The Stables of Diomed", and there pitched his camp. One morning he
would fain mount his horse for a gallop across the plain, but before he
was securely seated in the saddle the horse reared. The rider, afraid to
grasp the bridle firmly lest he should pull the creature over upon him,
clung tightly to his seat, but could not guide the horse, which, in its
dancing and prancing, came sidling past the door of the tent. There was
hanging, in barbarian fashion, a spear fastened by a thong. The horse
shied up against the spear, whose point gored his master's side. He was
not killed on the spot, but died soon after of the wound. After some
domestic dissensions and bloodshed, the leadership of his band passed to
his son Recitach, apparently a hot-tempered and tyrannical youth.

[Footnote 41: Malchus of Philadelphia, from whose history certain
"Extracts concerning Embassies" were made by order of the Emperor
Constantine Porphyrogemtus.]

Three years after his father's death (484), Recitach, now an enemy of
the Empire, was put to death by Theodoric the Amal, acting under the
orders of Zeno. The band of Triarian Goths, thirty thousand fighting men
in number, was joined to the army of Theodoric, an important addition to
his power, but also to his cares, to the ever-present difficulty of
finding food for his followers.

(481-487) Backwards and forwards between peace and war with the Empire,
Theodoric wavered during the six years which followed his rival's death.
The settlement of his people at this time seems to have been on the
southern shore of the Danube, in part of the countries now known as
Servia and Wallachia, with Novæ _(Sistova)_ for his headquarters. One
year (482) he is making a raid into Macedonia and Thessaly and
plundering Larissa. The next (483) he is again clothed with his old
dignity of Master of the Soldiery and keeps his Goths rigidly within
their allotted limits. The next (484) he is actually raised to the
Consulate, an office which, though devoid of power, is still so radiant
with the glory of the illustrious men who have held it for near a
thousand years, from the days of Brutus and Collatinus, that Emperors
covet the possession of it and the mightiest barbarian chiefs in their
service long for no higher reward.

Two years after this (486) he is again in rebellion, ravaging Thrace;
the next year (487) he has broken through the Long Walls and penetrates
within fourteen miles of Constantinople. In all this wearisome period of
Theodoric's life his action seems to be merely destructive; there is
nothing constructive, no fruitful or fertilising thought to be found in
it. Had this been a fair sample of his life, there could be no reason
why he should not sink into the oblivion which covers so many forgotten
freebooters. But in 488 a change came over the spirit of his dream. A
plan was agreed upon between him and the Emperor (by which of them it
was first suggested we cannot now say) for the employment of all this
wasted and destructive force in another field, where its energies might
accomplish some result beneficent and enduring.

That new field was Italy, and in order to understand the conditions of
the problem which there awaited Theodoric, we must briefly recount the
chief events which had happened in that peninsula since Attila departed
from untaken Rome in compliance with the petition of Pope Leo.

[Illustration: GOLDEN SOLIDUS.
(LEO II ZENO)]

[Illustration:]



                            CHAPTER VI.


                       ITALY UNDER ODOVACAR.

Condition of Italy--End of the line of Theodosius--Ricimer the
Patrician--Struggles with the Vandals--Orestes the Patrician makes his
son Emperor, who is called Augustulus--The fall of the Western Empire
and elevation of Odovacar--Embassies to Constantinople.


[Illustration: I]

In former chapters I have very briefly sketched the
fortunes of the Italian peninsula during two great barbarian
invasions--that of Alaric (407-410) and that of Attila (452). The
monarch who ruled the Western Empire at the date of the last invasion
was Valentinian III., grandson of the great Theodosius. He dwelt
sometimes at Rome, sometimes at Ravenna, which latter city, protected by
the waves of the Adriatic and by the innumerable canals and pools
through which the waters of two rivers [42] flowed lazily to the sea,
was all but impregnable by the barbarians. A selfish and indolent
voluptuary, Valentinian III. made no valuable contribution to the
defence of the menaced Empire, some stones of which were being shaken
down every year by the tremendous blows of the Teutonic invaders. Any
wisdom that might be shown in the councils of the State was due to his
mother, Galla Placidia, who, till her death in 451, was the real ruler
of the Empire. Any strength and valour that was displayed in its defence
was due to the great minister and general, Aëtius, a man who had
himself, probably, many drops of barbarian blood in his veins, though he
has been not unfitly styled "the last of the Romans". It was Aëtius who,
as we have seen, in concert with the Visigothic king, fought the fight
of civilisation against Hunnish barbarism on the Catalaunian
battle-plain. It was to "Aëtius, thrice Consul", that "the groans of the
Britons" were addressed when "the Barbarians drove them to the sea, and
the sea drove them back on the Barbarians".

[Footnote 42: The Ronco and the Montone.]

When Attila was dead, the weak and worthless Emperor seems to have
thought that he might safely dispense with the services of this too
powerful subject. Inviting Aëtius to his palace, he debated with him a
scheme for the marriage of their children (the son of the general was to
wed the daughter of the Emperor), and when the debate grew warm, with
calculated passion he snatched a sword from one of his guardsmen, and
with it pierced the body of Aëtius. The bloody work was finished by the
courtiers standing by, and the most eminent of the friends and
counsellors of the deceased statesman were murdered at the same time.

The foul assassination of this great defender of the Roman State was
requited next year by two barbarians of his train, men who no doubt
cherished for Aëtius the same feelings of personal loyalty which bound
the members of a Teutonic "Comitatus" to their chief, and who deemed
life a dishonour while their leader's blood remained unavenged. On a day
in March, while Valentinian was watching intently the games in the
Campus Martius of Rome, these two barbarians rushed upon him and stabbed
him, slaying at the same time the eunuch, who had been his chief
confederate in the murder of Aëtius.

With Valentinian III. the line of Theodosius, which had swayed the Roman
sceptre for eighty-six years, came to an end. None of the men who after
him bore the great title of Augustus in Rome (I am speaking, of course,
of the fifth century only) succeeded in founding a dynasty. Not only was
no one of them followed by a son: scarcely one of them was suffered to
end his own reign in peace. Of the nine Emperors who wore the purple in
Italy after the death of Valentinian, only two ended their reigns in the
course of nature, four were deposed, and three met their death by
violence. Only one reigned for more than five years; several could only
measure the duration of their royalty by months. Even the short period
(455-476) which these nine reigns occupy is not entirely filled by them,
for there were frequent interregna, one lasting for a year and eight
months. And the men were as feeble as their kingly life was short and
precarious. With the single exception of Majorian, (457-461), a brave
and strong man, and one who, if fair play had been given him, would have
assuredly done something to stay the ruin of the Empire, all of these
nine men (with whose names there is no need to burden the reader's
memory) are fitly named by a German historian "the Shadow Emperors".

During sixteen years of this time (456-472), supreme power in the Empire
was virtually wielded by a nobleman of barbarian origin, but naturalised
in the Roman State, the proud and stern "Patrician" Ricimer. This man,
descended from the chiefs of the Suevi,[43] grandson of a Visigothic
king, and brother-in-law of a king of the Burgundians, was doubtless
able to bring much barbaric influence to support the cause which, from
whatever motives, he had espoused,--the cause of the defence of that
which was left to Rome of her Empire in the West of Europe.

[Footnote: 43 widely spread German nation, the largest fragment of which
was at this time settled in the west of Spain and in Portugal.]

Many Teutonic tribes had by this time settled themselves in the Imperial
lands. Spain was quite lost to the Empire: some fragments of Gaul were
still bound to it by a most precarious tie; but the loss which
threatened the life of the State most nearly was the loss of Africa. For
this province, the capital of which was the restored and Romanised city
of Carthage, had been for generations the chief exporter of corn to feed
the pauperised population of Rome, and here now dwelt and ruled, and
from hence (428-432) sallied forth to his piratical raids against
Italy, the deadliest enemy of the Roman name, the king of the Vandals,
Gaiseric.[44] The Vandal conquest of Africa was, at the time which we
have now reached, a somewhat old story, nearly a generation having
elapsed since it occurred,[45] but the Vandal sack of Rome, which came
to pass immediately after the death of Valentinian III., and which
marked the beginning of the period of the "Shadow Emperors" was still
near and terrible to the memories of men. No Roman but remembered in
bitterness of soul how in June, 455, the long ships of the Vandals
appeared at the mouth of the Tiber, how Gaiseric and his men landed,
marched to the Eternal City, and entered it unopposed, how they remained
there for a fortnight, not perhaps slaying or ravishing, but with calm
insolence plundering the city of all that they cared to carry away,
stripping off what they supposed to be the golden roof of the Capitol,
removing the statues from their pedestals, transporting everything that
seemed beautiful or costly, and stowing away all their spoils in the
holds of those insatiable vessels of theirs which lay at anchor at
Ostia.

[Footnote 44: Commonly but incorrectly called Genseric. The form used
above, which is that found in nearly all contemporary historians, is now
almost universally employed by German scholars.]

[Footnote 45: The capture of Carthage, which completed the conquest, did
not take place till 439.]

The remembrance of this humiliating capture and the fear that it might
at any moment be repeated, probably with circumstances of greater
atrocity, were the dominant emotions in the hearts of the Roman Senate
and people during the twenty-one years which we are now rapidly
surveying. It was doubtless these feelings which induced them to submit
more patiently than they would otherwise have done to the scarcely
veiled autocracy of an imperfectly Romanised Teuton such as Ricimer. He
was a barbarian, it was true; probably he could not even speak Latin
grammatically; but he was mighty with the barbarian kings, mighty with
the _fœderati_ the rough soldiers gathered from every German tribe on
the other side of the Alps, who now formed the bulk of the Imperial
army; let him be as arrogant as he would to the Senate, let him set up
and pull down one "Shadow Emperor" after another, if only he would keep
the streets of Rome from being again profaned by the tread of the
terrible Vandal.

(456-468) To a certain extent the confidence reposed in Ricimer was not
misplaced. He inflicted a severe defeat on the Vandals in a naval
engagement near the island of Corsica; he raised to the throne the young
and valiant Majorian, who repelled a Vandal invasion of Campania; he
planned, in conjunction with the Eastern Emperor, a great expedition
against Carthage, which failed through no fault of his, but by the bad
generalship of Basiliscus, whose brother-in-law, Leo, had appointed him
to the command. But the rule of a barbarian like Ricimer exercised on
the sacred soil of Italy, and the brutal arrogance with which he dashed
down one of his puppet-Emperors after another when they had served his
purpose, must have done much to break the spirit of the Roman nobles and
the Roman commonalty, and to prepare the way for the Teutonic revolution
which occurred soon after his death. Above all, we have reason to think
that, during the whole time of Ricimer's ascendancy, the barbarian
_fœderati_ were becoming more absolutely dominant in the Roman army, and
with waxing numbers were growing more insolent in their demeanour, and
more intolerable In their demands.

The ranks of the _fœderati_ were at this time recruited, not from one of
the great historic nationalities--Visigoth, Ostrogoth, Frank, or
Burgundian,--but chiefly from a number of petty tribes, known as the
Rugii, Scyri, Heruli, and Turcilingi, who have failed to make any
enduring mark in history. These tribes, which upon the break-up of
Attila's Empire had established themselves on the shore of the Middle
Danube, north and west of the lands occupied by the Ostrogoths, were
continually sending their young warriors over the passes of Noricum
(_Salzburg, Styria_, and _Carinthia_) to seek their fortune in Italy.
One of these recruits, on his southward journey, stepped into the cave
of a holy hermit named Severinus, and stooping his lofty stature in the
lowly cell, asked the saint's blessing. When the blessing was given, the
youth said: "Farewell". "Not farewell, but fare forward",[46] answered
Severinus. "Onward into Italy: skin-clothed now, but destined before
long to enrich many men with costly gifts". The name of this young
recruit was Odovacar.[47]

[Footnote 46: "Vale". "Vade".]

[Footnote 47: This is the form of the name used by contemporary
historians; Odoacer is a later and less authentic form.]

Odovacar probably entered Italy about 465. He attached himself to the
party of Ricimer, and before long became a conspicuous captain of
_fœderati_ After the death of Ricimer (18th August, 472), there was a
series of rapid revolutions in the Roman State. Olybrius, the then
reigning nonentity, died in October of the same year.

(June, 474) After five months' interregnum, a yet more shadowy shadow,
Glycerius, succeeded him, and after fifteen months of rule was thrust
from the throne by Julius Nepos, who had married the niece of Verina,
the mischief-making Augusta of the East, and who was, therefore,
supported by all the moral influence of Constantinople.

Nepos, after fourteen months of Empire, in which he distinguished
himself only by the loss of some (Oct.,475) Gaulish provinces to the
Visigoths, was in his turn dethroned by the Master of the Soldiery,
Orestes, who had once held a subordinate situation in the court of
Attila. Nepos fled to Dalmatia, which was probably his native land, and
lived there for four years after his dethronement, still keeping up some
at least of the state which belonged to a Roman Emperor.

We know very little of the pretexts for these rapid revolutions, or the
circumstances attending them, but there cannot be much doubt that the
army was the chief agent in what, to borrow a phrase from modern
Spanish politics, were a series of _pronunciamentos_. For some reason
which is dim to us, Orestes, though a full-blooded Roman citizen, did
not set the diadem on his own head, but placed it on that of his son, a
handsome boy of some fourteen or fifteen years, named Romulus, and
nicknamed "the little Augustus". For himself, he took the dignity of
"Patrician", which had been so long worn by Ricimer, and was associated
in men's minds with the practical mastery of the Empire. But a ruler who
has been raised to the throne by military sedition soon finds that the
authors of his elevation are the most exacting of masters. The
_fœderati,_ who knew themselves now absolute arbiters of the destiny of
the Empire, and who had the same craving for a settlement within its
borders which we have met with more than once among the followers of
Theodoric, presented themselves before the Patrician Orestes, and
demanded that one-third of the lands of Italy should be assigned to them
as a perpetual inheritance. This was more than Orestes dared to grant,
and, on his refusal, Odovacar said to the mercenaries: "Make me king and
I will obtain for you your desire".

(23d Aug., 476) The offer was accepted; Odovacar was lifted high on a
shield by the arms of stalwart barbarians, and saluted as king by their
unanimous acclamations.

When the _fœderati_ were gathered out of the "Roman" army, there seems
to have been nothing left that was capable of making any real defence of
the Empire. The campaign, if such it may be called, between Odovacar
and Orestes was of the shortest and most perfunctory kind. Ticinum
(_Pavia_), in which Orestes had taken refuge, was taken, sacked, and
partly burnt by the barbarians. The Master of the Soldiery himself fled
to Placentia, but was there taken prisoner and beheaded, only five days
after the elevation of Odovacar. A week later his brother Paulus, who
had not men enough to hold even the strong city of Ravenna, was taken
prisoner, and slain in the great pine-forest outside that city. At
Ravenna the young puppet-Emperor, Romulus, was also taken prisoner. The
barbarian showed himself more merciful, perhaps also more contemptuous,
towards his boy-rival than was the custom of the Emperors of Rome and
Constantinople towards the sons of their competitors. Odovacar, who
pitied the tender years of Augustulus, and looked with admiration on his
beautiful countenance, spared his life and assigned to him for a
residence the palace and gardens of Lucullus, the conqueror of
Mithridates, who five and a half centuries before had prepared for
himself this beautiful home (the Lucullanum) in the very heart of the
lovely Bay of Naples. The building and the fortifying of a great
commercial city have utterly altered the whole aspect of the bay, but in
the long egg-shaped peninsula, on which stands to-day the Castel dell'
Ovo, we can still see the outlines of the famous Lucullanum, in which
the last Roman Emperor of Rome ended his inglorious days. His conqueror
generously allowed him a pension of £3,600 per annum, but for how long
this pension continued to be a charge on the revenues of the new
kingdom we are unable to say. There is one doubtful indication of his
having survived his abdication by about thirty years,[48] but clear
historical notices of his subsequent life and of the date of his death
are denied us; a striking proof of the absolute nullity of his
character.

[Footnote 48: I allude here to a letter in the Vanarum of Cassiodorus
(iii., 35), written between 504 and 525, and addressed to Romulus and
his mother. But we can by no means prove that this is Romulus
Augustulus.]

This then was the event which stands out in the history of Europe as the
"Fall of the Western Empire" The reader will perceive that it was no
great and terrible invasion of a conquering host like the Fall of the
Eastern Empire in 1453; no sudden overthrow of a national polity like
the Norman Conquest of 1066; not even a bloody overturning of the
existing order by demagogic force like the French Revolution of 1792. It
was but the continuance of a process which had been going forward more
or less manifestly for nearly a century,--the recognition of the fact
that the _fœderati,_ the so-called barbarian mercenaries of Rome, were
really her masters. If we had to seek a parallel for the event of 476,
we should find it rather in the deposition of the last Mogul Emperor at
Delhi, and the public assumption by the British Queen of the "Raj" over
the greater part of India, than in any of the other events to which we
have alluded.

Reflecting on this fact, and seeing that the Roman Empire still lived on
in the East for nearly a thousand years, that the Eastern Cæsar never
for many generations reliquished his claim to be considered the
legitimate ruler of the Old Rome, as well as of the New, and sometimes
asserted that claim in a very real and effective manner, and considering
too that Charles the Great, when he (in modern phrase) "restored the
Western Empire" in 800, never professed to be the successor of Romulus
Augustulus, but of Constantine VI., the then recently deposed Emperor of
the East; the latest school of historical investigators, with scarcely
an exception, minimise the importance of the event of 476, and some even
object to the expression "Fall of the Western Empire" as fitly
describing it. The protest is a sound one and was greatly needed.
Perhaps now the danger is in the other direction, and there is a risk of
our making too little of an event in which after all the sceptre did
manifestly depart from Rome. During the whole interval between
Odovacar's accession and Belisarius' occupation of Rome (476-536), no
Roman, however proud or patriotic, could blind himself to the fact that
a man of barbarian blood was the real, and in a certain sense the
supreme, ruler of his country. Ricimer might be looked upon as an
eminent servant of the Emperor who had the misfortune to be of barbarian
birth. Odovacar and Theodoric were, without all contradiction, kings; if
not "kings of Italy", at any rate "kings in Italy", sometimes actually
making war on the Cæsar of Byzantium, and not caring, when they did so,
to set up the phantom of a rival Emperor in order to legitimise their
opposition. But in a matter so greatly debated as this it will be safer
not to use our own or any modern words, This is how Count Marcellinus,
an official of the Eastern Empire, writing his annals about fifty-eight
years after the deposition of Romulus, describes the event: "Odovacar
killed Orestes and condemned his son Augustulus to the punishment of
exile in the Lucullanum, a castle of Campania. The Hesperian (Western)
Empire of the Roman people, which Octavianus Augustus first of the
Augusti began to hold in the 709th year of the building of the city
(B.C. 44), perished with this Augustulus in the 522d year of his
predecessors (A.D. 476), the kings of the Goths thenceforward holding
both Rome and Italy".[49]

[Footnote 49: "Orestem Odoacer llico trucidavit, Augustulum filium
Orestis Odoacer in Lucullano Campania castello exilii poena damnavit.
Hesperium Romana gentis imperium, quod septingentesimo nono urbis
condita anno primus Augustorum Octavianus Augustus tenere cœpit, cum hoc
Augustulo periit, anno decessorum regni Imperatorum DXXII. Gothorum
dehinc regibus Romam tenentibus". It will be seen that there is an error
of two years in the calculation.]

Of the details of Odovacar's rule in Italy we know very little. Of
course the _fœderati_ had their will, at any rate in some measure, with
reference to the assignment of land in Italy, but no historian has told
us anything as to the social disorganisation which such a redistribution
of property must have produced. There are some indications that it was
not thoroughly carried into effect, at any rate in the South of Italy,
and that the settlements of the _fœderati_ were chiefly in the valley of
the Po, and in the districts since known as the Romagna.

The old Imperial machinery of government was taken over by the new
ruler, and in all outward appearance things probably went on under King
Odovacar much as they had done under Count Ricimer. No great act of
cruelty or oppression stains the memory of Odovacar. He lost Provence to
the Visigoths, but, on the other hand, he by judicious diplomacy
recovered Sicily from the Vandals. Altogether it is probable that Italy
was, at any rate, not more miserable under the sway of this barbarian
king than she had been at any time since Alaric's invasion, in 408,
proclaimed her helplessness to the world.

One piece of solemn comedy is worth relating, namely, the embassies
despatched to Constantinople by the rival claimants to the dominion of
Italy. It was probably towards the end of 477, or early in 478, that
Zeno, then recently returned from exile after the usurpation of
Basiliscus, received two embassies from two deposed Emperors of the
West. First of all came the ambassadors of Augustulus, or rather of the
Roman Senate, sent nominally by the orders of Augustulus, really by
those of Odovacar. These men, great Roman nobles, represented "that they
did not need an Emperor of their own. One absolute ruler was sufficient
to guard both East and West; but they had, moreover, chosen Odovacar,
who was well able to protect their interests, being a man wise in
counsel and brave in war. They therefore prayed the Emperor to bestow on
him the dignity of Patrician, and to entrust to him the administration
of the affairs of Italy". At the same time (apparently) they brought the
ornaments of the Imperial dignity, the diadem, the purple robe, the
jewelled buskins, which had been worn by all the "Shadow Emperors" who
flitted across the stage, and requested that they might be laid up in
the Imperial palace at Constantinople.

Simultaneously there came ambassadors from Nepos, the Imperial refugee,
the nephew by marriage of Verina. From his Dalmatian exile he
congratulated his kinsman Zeno on his recent restoration to the throne,
and begged him to lend men and money to bring about the like happy
result for him by replacing him on the Western throne.

To these embassies Zeno returned ambiguous answers, which seemed to
leave the question as to the legitimacy of Odovacar's rule an open one.
The Senate were sharply rebuked for having acquiesced in the
dethronement of Nepos, and a previous Emperor who had been sent to them
from the East.[50] Odovacar was recommended to seek the coveted dignity
from Nepos, and to co-operate for his return. At the same time, the
moderation of Odovacar's rule, and his desire to conform himself to the
maxims of Roman civilisation, received the Emperor's praise. The nature
of the reply to Nepos is not recorded, but it was no doubt made plain to
him that sympathy and good wishes were all that he would receive from
his Eastern colleague. The letters addressed to Odovacar bore the
superscription "To the _Patrician_ Odovacar", and that was all that the
barbarian really cared for. With such a title as this, every act, even
the most high-handed, on the part of the barbarian king was rendered
legitimate. Nepos and Augustulus were equally excluded as useless
encumbrances to the state, and the kings _de jure_ and _de facto_ became
practically one man, and that man Odovacar.

[Footnote 50: Anthemius.]

[Illustration: HALF-SILIQUA OF SILVER. (ODOVACAR.)]

[Illustration:]




                           CHAPTER VII.


                     THE CONQUEST OF ITALY.

Odovacar invades Dalmatia--Conducts a successful campaign against the
Rugians--Theodoric accepts from Zeno the commission to overthrow
Odovacar--He invades Italy, overthrowing the Gepidse, who attempt to bar
his passage--Battles of the Isonzo and Verona--Odovacar takes refuge in
Ravenna--The treachery of Tufa--Gundobad, king of the Burgundians, comes
to Italy to oppose Theodoric, while Alaric II, king of the Visigoths,
comes as his ally--The battle of the Adda, and further defeat of
Odovacar--Surrender of Ravenna--Assassination of Odovacar.


[Illustration:]

The friendly relations between Odovacar and the Eastern Emperor which
had been established by the embassy last described were gradually
altered into estrangement. In the year 480, Nepos, the dethroned Emperor
of Rome, was stabbed by two treacherous courtiers in his palace near
Salona. Odovacar led an army into Dalmatia, and avenged the murder, but
also apparently annexed the province of Dalmatia to his dominion, thus
coming into nearer neighbourhood with Constantinople (487-488) This may
have been one cause of alienation, but a more powerful one was the
negotiation which was commenced in the year 484 between Odovacar and
Illus, the last of the many insurgent generals who disturbed the reign
of Zeno. At first Odovacar held himself aloof from the proposed
confederacy, but afterwards (486) he was disposed, or Zeno believed that
he was disposed, to accept the alliance of the insurgent general. In
order to find him sufficient occupation nearer home, the Emperor fanned
into a flame the smouldering embers of discord between Odovacar and
Feletheus, king of the Rugians, the most powerful ruler of those
Danubian lands from which the Italian king himself had migrated into
Italy. The Rugian war was short, and Odovacar's success was decisive. In
487 he vanquished the Rugian army and carried Feletheus and his wife
prisoners to Ravenna. In 488 an attempt to raise again the standard of
the Rugian monarchy, which was made by Frederic, the son of Feletheus,
was crushed, and Frederic, an exile and a fugitive, betook himself to
the camp of Theodoric, who was then dwelling at Novæ(_Sistova?_), on the
Danube.

When the attempt to weaken Odovacar by means of his fellow-barbarians in
"Rugiland" failed, Zeno feigned outward acquiescence, offering
congratulations on the victory and receiving presents out of the Rugian
spoils, but in his heart he felt that there must now be war to the death
between him and this too powerful ruler of Italy. The news came to him
at a time when Theodoric was in one of his most turbulent and
destructive moods, when he had penetrated within fourteen miles of
Constantinople and had fired the towns and villages of Thrace, perhaps
even within sight of the capital. It was a natural thought and not
altogether an unstatesmanlike expedient to play off one disturber of his
peace against the other, to commission Theodoric to dethrone the
"tyrant" Odovacar, and thus at least earn repose for the provincials of
Thrace, perhaps secure an ally at Ravenna. Theodoric, we may be sure,
with those instincts of civilisation and love for the Empire which had
been in his heart from boyhood, though often repressed and disobeyed,
needed little exhortation to an enterprise which he may himself have
suggested to the Emperor.

Thus then it came to pass that a formal interview was arranged between
Emperor and King (perhaps at Constantinople, though it seems doubtful
whether Theodoric could have safely trusted himself within its walls),
and at this interview the terms of the joint enterprise were arranged,
an enterprise to which Theodoric was to contribute all the effective
strength and Zeno the glamour of Imperial legitimacy.

When the high contracting parties met, Theodoric lamented the hapless
condition of Italy and Rome: Italy once subject to the predecessors of
Zeno; Rome, once the mistress of the world, now harassed and distressed
by the usurped authority of a king of Rugians and Turcilingians. If the
Emperor would send Theodoric thither with his people, he would be at
once relieved from the heavy charges of their _stipendia_ which he was
now bound to furnish, while Theodoric would hold the land as of the free
gift of the Emperor, and would reign there as king, only till Zeno
himself should arrive to claim the supremacy[51].

[Footnote 51: The account of this important interview is combined from
two sources: Jordanes, the Gothic historian, who naturally magnifies
Theodoric's share in the inception of the enterprise; and a chronicler
known as "Anonymus Valesii", who evidently writes in the interest of
Zeno. It is from the latter only that we have any hint of an intended
visit of Zeno to Italy, a visit which certainly never took place.
Procopius, who also writes from the Byzantine point of view, attributes
the conception of the design to Zeno.]

In the autumn of the year 488, Theodoric with all his host set forth
from Sistova on the Danube on his march to Italy. His road was the same
taken by Alaric and by most of the barbarian invaders; along the Danube
as far as Belgrade, then between the rivers Drave and Save or along the
banks of one of them till he reached the Julian Alps (not far from the
modern city of Laibach), then down upon Aquileia and the Venetian plain.
As in the Macedonian campaign, so now, he was accompanied by all the
members of his nation, old men and children, mothers and maidens, and
doubtless by a long train of waggons. We have no accurate information
whatever as to the number of his army, but various indications, both in
earlier and later history, seem to justify us in assuming that the
soldiers must have numbered fully 40,000; and if this was the case, the
whole nation cannot have been less than 200,000. The difficulty of
finding food for so great a multitude in the often desolated plains of
Pannonia and Noricum must have been enormous, and was no doubt the
reason of the slowness of Theodoric's progress. Very probably he divided
his army into several portions, moving on parallel lines; foragers would
scour the country far and wide, stores of provisions would be
accumulated in the great Gothic waggons, which would be laboriously
driven over the rough mountain passes. Then all the divisions of the
army which had scattered in search of food would have to concentrate
again when they came into the neighbourhood of an enemy, whether
Odovacar or one of the barbarian kings who sought to bar their progress.
All these operations consumed much time, and hence it was that though
the Goths started on their pilgrimage in 488 (probably in the autumn of
that year) they did not descend into the plains of Italy even at its
extreme north-eastern corner, till July, 489.

There was one fact which probably facilitated the progress of Theodoric,
and prevented his expedition with such a multitude from being condemned
as absolute foolhardiness. His road lay, for the most part, through
regions with which he was already well acquainted, through a land which
might almost be called his native land, and both the resources and the
difficulties of which were well known to him. The first considerable
city that he came to, Singidunum (the modern Belgrade), was the scene of
his own first boyish battle. The Gepidæ, who were his chief antagonists
on the road, had swarmed over into that very province of Pannonia where
his father's palace once stood; and though they showed themselves
bitter foes, they were doubtless surrounded by foes of their own who
would be friends to the Ostrogoths. Probably, too, Frederic, the Rugian
refugee, brought with him many followers who knew the road and could
count on the assistance of some barbarian allies, eager to overturn the
throne of Odovacar. Thus it will be seen that though the perils of the
Ostrogothic march were tremendous, the danger which in those mapless
days was so often fatal to an invading army--ignorance of the
country--was not among them.

We are vaguely told of countless battles fought by the Ostrogoths with
Sclavonic and other tribes that lay across their line of march, but the
only battle of which we have any details (and those only such as we can
extract from the cloudy rhetoric of a popular preacher[52]) is one which
was fought with the Gepidse, soon after the Goths had emerged from the
territory of the friendly Empire, near the great mere or river which
went by the name of Hiulca Palus, in what is now the crown-land of
Sclavonia. When the great and over-wearied multitude approached the
outskirts of the Gepid territory, their leader sent an embassy to
Traustila, king of the Gepidæ, entreating that his host might have an
unmolested passage, and offering to pay for the provisions which they
would require. To this embassy Traustila returned a harsh and insulting
answer: "He would yield no passage through his dominions to the
Ostrogoths; if they would go by that road they must first fight with
the unconquered Gepidæ" Traustila then took up a strong position near
the Hiulca Palus, whose broad waters, girdled by fen and treacherous
morass, made the onward march of the invaders a task of almost desperate
danger. But the Ostrogoths could not now retreat; famine and pestilence
lay behind them on their road; they must go forward, and with a
reluctant heart Theodoric gave the signal for the battle.

[Footnote 52: Ennodius, Bishop of Pavia, whose Panegyric on Theodoric,
spoken about 506, is our chief authority for this part of the history.]

It seemed at first as if that battle would be lost, and as if the name
and fame of the Ostrogothic people would be swallowed up in the morasses
of the reedy Hiulca. Already the van of the army, floundering in the
soft mud, and with only their wicker shields to oppose to the deadly
shower of the Gepid arrows, were like to fall back in confusion. Then
Theodoric, having called for a cup of wine, and drunk to the fortunes of
his people, in a few spirited words called to his soldiers to follow his
standard--the standard of a king who would carve out the way to victory.
Perchance he may have discerned some part of the plain where the road
went over solid ground, and if that were beset by foes, at any rate the
Gepid was less terrible than the morass. So it was that he charged
triumphantly through the hostile ranks, and, being followed by his eager
warriors, achieved a signal victory. The Gepidæ were soon wandering over
the plain, a broken and dispirited force. Multitudes of them were slain
before the descent of night saved the remaining fugitives, and so large
a number of the Gepid store-waggons fell into the hands of the
Ostrogoths that throughout the host one voice of rejoicing arose that
Traustila had been willing to fight. So had a little Gothic blood bought
food more than they could ever have afforded money to purchase.

Thus, through foes and famine, hardships of the winter and hardships of
the summer, the nation-army held on its way, and at length (as has been
already said) in the month of August (489) the last of the waggons
descended from the highlands, which are an outpost of the Julian Alps,
and the Ostrogoths were encamped on the plains of Italy. Odovacar, who
apparently had allowed them to accomplish the passage of the Alps
unmolested, stood ready to meet them on the banks of the Isonzo, the
river which flows near the ruins of the great city of Aquileia. He had a
large army, the kernel of which would doubtless be those mercenaries who
had raised him on the shield thirteen years before, and among whom he
had divided one-third part of the soil of Italy. But many other
barbarians had flocked to his standard, so that he had, as it were, a
little court of kings, chieftains serving under him as supreme leader.
He himself, however, was now in the fifty-sixth year of his age, and his
genius for war, if he ever had any, seems to have failed him. He fought
(as far as we can discern his conduct from the fragmentary notices of
the annalists and panegyrists) with a sort of sullen savageness, like a
wild beast at bay, but without skill either of strategy or tactics. The
invaders, encumbered with the waggons and the non-combatants, had
greatly the disadvantage of position. Odovacar's camp had been long
prepared, was carefully fortified, and protected by the deep and rapid
Isonzo. But Theodoric's soldiers succeeded in crossing the river,
stormed the camp, defended as it was by a strong earthen rampart, and
sent its defenders flying in wild rout over the plains of Venetia.
Odovacar fell back on the line of the Adige, and the beautiful
north-eastern corner of Italy, the region which includes among its
cities Udine, Venice, Vicenza, Padua, now accepted without dispute the
rule of Theodoric, and perhaps welcomed him as a deliverer from the
stern sway of Odovacar.[53] From this time forward it is allowable to
conjecture that the most pressing of Theodoric's anxieties, that which
arose from the difficulty of feeding and housing the women and children
of his people, if not wholly removed was greatly lightened. Odovacar
took up a strong position near Verona, separated from that city by the
river Adige. Theodoric, though not well provided with warlike
appliances,[54] rightly judged that it was of supreme importance to his
cause to follow up with rapidity the blow struck on the banks of the
Isonzo, and accordingly, towards the end of September, he, with his
army, stood before the _fossatum_ or entrenched camp at Verona. In order
to force his soldiers to fight bravely, Odovacar had, in defiance of the
ordinary rules of war, placed his camp where retreat was almost
hopelessly barred by the swift stream of the Adige, and he addressed his
army with stout words full of simulated confidence in victory. On the
morning of the 30th of September, when the two armies were about to join
in what must evidently be a most bloody encounter, the mother and sister
of Theodoric, Erelieva and Amalfrida, sought his presence and asked him
with some anxiety what were the chances of the battle. With words,
reminding us of the Homeric saying that "the best omen is to fight
bravely for one's country", Theodoric reassured their doubting hearts.
On that day, he told his mother, it was for him to show that she had
given birth to a hero on the day when the Ostrogoths did battle with the
Huns. Dressed in his most splendid robes, those robes which their hands
had adorned with bright embroidery, he would be conspicuous both to
friend and foe, and would give a noble spoil to his conqueror if any man
could succeed in slaying him. With these words he leapt on his horse,
rushed to the van, cheered on his wavering troops, and began a series of
charges, which at length, but not till thousands of his own men as well
as of the enemy were slain, carried the _fossatum_ of Odovacar.

[Footnote 53: I cannot put this as more than a conjecture. We have
singularly little information, even from the panegyrical Ennodius, as to
the feelings of the Italian provincials during this crisis of their
fate.]

[Footnote 54: Expers bellicis rebus (Continuatio Prosperi: Codex
Havniensis)]

The battle once gained, of course the dispositions which Odovacar had
made to ensure the resistance of his soldiers, necessitated their ruin,
and the swirling waters of the Adige probably destroyed as many as the
Ostrogothic sword. Odovacar himself, again a fugitive, sped across the
plain south-eastward to Ravenna, compelled like so many Roman Emperors
before him to shelter himself from the invader behind its untraversable
network of rivers and canals. It would seem from the scanty notices
which remain to us that in this battle of Verona, the bloodiest and
most hardly fought of all the battles of the war, the original army of
_fœderati_, the men who had crowned Odovacar king, and divided the third
part of Italy between them, was, if not annihilated, utterly broken and
dispirited, and Theodoric, who now marched westward with his people, and
was welcomed with blessing and acclamations by the Bishop and citizens
of Milan, received also the transferred allegiance of the larger part of
the army of his rival.

It seemed as if a campaign of a few weeks had secured the conquest of
Italy, but the war was in fact prolonged for three years and a half from
this time by domestic treachery, foreign invasion, and the almost
absolute impregnability of Ravenna.

I. At the head of the soldiers of Odovacar who had apparently with
enthusiasm accepted the leadership of his younger and more brilliant
rival, was a certain Tufa, Master of the Soldiery among the _fœderati_
Either he had extraordinary powers of deception, or Theodoric, short of
generals, accepted his professions of loyalty with most unwise facility;
for so it was that the Ostrogothic king entrusted to Tufa's generalship
the army which assuredly he ought to have led himself to the siege of
Ravenna. When Tufa arrived at Faventia, about eighteen miles from
Ravenna, his old master came forth to meet him; the instinct of loyalty
to Odovacar revived (if indeed he had not all along been playing a part
in his alleged desertion), and Tufa carried over, apparently, the larger
part of the army under his command to the service of Theodoric's rival.
Worst of all, he surrendered to his late master the chief members of
his staff the so-called _comites (henchmen)_ of Theodoric some of whom
had probably helped him in his early adventure against Singidunum, and
had shared his hardships in many a weary march through Thrace and
Macedonia. These men were all basely murdered by Odovacar, a deed which
Theodoric inwardly determined should never be forgiven (492).

Such an event as the defection of Tufa, carrying with him a considerable
portion of his troops, was a great blow to the Ostrogothic cause. Some
time later another and similar event took place. Frederic the Rugian,
whose father had been dethroned, and who had been himself driven into
exile by the armies of Odovacar, for some unexplained and most
mysterious reason, quitted the service of Theodoric and entered that of
his own deadliest enemy. The sympathy of scoundrels seems to have drawn
him into a special intimacy with Tufa, with whom he probably wandered up
and down through Lombardy (as we now call it) and Venetia, robbing and
slaying in the name of Odovacar, but not caring to share his hardships
in blockaded and famine-stricken Ravenna. Fortunately, the Nemesis which
so often waits on the friendship of bad men was not wanting in this
case. The two traitors quarrelled about the division of the spoil and a
battle took place between them, in the valley of the Adige above Verona,
in which Tufa was slain. Frederic, with his Rugian countrymen, occupied
the strong city of Ticinum _(Pavia)_, where they spent two dreadful
years, "Their minds", says an eye-witness,[55] in after-time the Bishop
of that city, "were full of cruel energy which prompted them to daily
crimes. In truth, they thought that each day was wasted which they had
not made memorable by some sort of outrage". In 494, with the general
pacification of Italy, they disappear from view: and we may conjecture,
though we are not told, that Pavia was taken, and that Frederic received
his deserts at the hands of Theodoric.

II. In the year 490 Gundobad, king of the Burgundians, crossed the Alps
and descended into Italy to mingle in the fray as an antagonist of
Theodoric. In the same year, probably at the same time, Alaric II., king
of the Visigoths, entered Italy as his ally. A great battle was fought
on the river Adda, ten miles east of Milan, in which Odovacar, who had
emerged from the shelter of Ravenna, was again completely defeated. He
fled once more to Ravenna, which he never again quitted.

[Footnote 55: Ennodius (writing the life of Bishop Epiphanius).]

While these operations were proceeding, Theodoric's own family and the
non-combatants of the Ostrogothic nation were in safe shelter, though in
somewhat narrow quarters, in the strong city of Pavia, whose Bishop,
Epiphanius, was the greatest saint of his age, and one for whom
Theodoric felt an especial veneration. No doubt they must have left that
city before the evil-minded Rugians entered it (492), but we hear
nothing of the circumstances of their flight or removal.

As for the Burgundian king, he does not seem to have been guided by any
high considerations of policy in his invasion of Italy, and having been
induced to conclude a treaty with Theodoric, he returned to his own
royal city of Lyons with goodly spoil and a long train of hapless
captives torn from the fields of Liguria.

III. These disturbing elements being cleared away, we may now turn our
attention to the true key of the position and the central event of the
war, the siege of Odovacar in Ravenna. After Tufa's second change of
sides, and during the Burgundian invasion of Italy, there was no
possibility of keeping up an Ostrogothic blockade of the city of the
marshes. Odovacar emerged thence, won back the lower valley of the Po,
and marching on Milan, inflicted heavy punishment on the city, for the
welcome given to Theodoric. In the battle of the Adda, 11 August, 490,
however, as has been already mentioned, he sustained a severe defeat, in
which he lost one of his most faithful friends and ablest counsellors, a
Roman noble named Pierius. After his flight to Ravenna, which
immediately followed the battle of the Adda, there seems to have been a
general movement throughout Italy, headed by the Catholic clergy, for
the purpose of throwing off his yoke, and if we do not misread the
obscure language of the Panegyrist, this movement was accompanied by a
wide-spread popular conspiracy, somewhat like the Sicilian Vespers of a
later day, to which the _fœderati_, the still surviving adherents of
Odovacar, scattered over their various domains in Italy, appear to have
fallen victims.

Only two cities, Cæsena and Rimini, beside Ravenna, now remained to
Odovacar, and for the next two years and a half (from the autumn of 490
to the spring of 493) Ravenna was straitly besieged. Corn rose to a
terrible famine price (seventy-two shillings a peck), and before the
end of the siege the inhabitants had to feed on the hides of animals,
and all sorts of foul and fearful aliments, and many of them perished of
hunger. A sortie made in 491 by a number of barbarian recruits whom
Odovacar had by some means attracted to his standard, was repelled after
a desperate encounter. During all this time Theodoric, from his
entrenched camp in the great pine-wood of Ravenna, was watching
jealously to see that no provisions entered the city by land, and in
492, after taking Rimini, he brought a fleet of swift vessels thence to
a harbour about six miles from Ravenna, and thus completed its
investment by sea.

In the beginning of 493 the misery of the besieged city became
unendurable, and Odovacar, with infinite reluctance, began to negotiate
for its surrender. His son Thelane was handed over as a hostage for his
fidelity, and the parleying between the two rival chiefs began on the
25th of February. On the following day Theodoric and his Ostrogoths
entered Classis, the great naval emporium, about three miles from the
city; and on the 27th, by the mediation of the Bishop, peace was
formally concluded between the warring kings.

The peace, the surrender of the city, the acceptance of the rule of "the
new King from the East", were apparently placed under the especial
guardianship of the Church. "The most blessed man, the Archbishop John",
says a later ecclesiastical historian,[56] "opened the gates of the
city, 5 March, 493, which Odovacar had closed, and went forth with
crosses and thuribles and the Holy Gospels, seeking peace. While the
priests and the rest of the clergy round him intoned the psalms, he,
falling prostrate on the ground, obtained that which he desired. He
welcomed the new King coming from the East, and peace was granted unto
him, including not only the citizens of Ravenna, but all the other
Romans[57], for whom the blessed John made entreaty".

[Footnote 56: Agnellus (writing in the ninth century). His use of the
term Archbishop is itself a sign of a later age.]

[Footnote 57: The non-barbarian population of Italy]

The chief clause of the treaty was that which assured Odovacar not only
life but absolute equality of power with his conqueror. The fact that
Theodoric should have, even in appearance, consented to an arrangement
so precarious and unstable, is the strongest testimony to the
impregnability of Ravenna, which after three years' strict blockade,
could still be won only by so mighty a concession. But of course there
was not, there could not be, any real peace on such terms between the
two queen-bees in that swarming hive of barbarians. Theodoric received
information--so we are told--that his rival was laying snares for his
life, and being determined to anticipate the blow, invited Odovacar to a
banquet at "the Palace of the Laurel-grove", on the south-east of the
city (15th March, 493). When Odovacar arrived, two suppliants knelt
before him and clasped his hands while offering a feigned petition. Some
soldiers who had been stationed in two side alcoves stepped forth from
the ambush to slay him, but at the last moment their hearts failed them,
and they could not strike. If the deed was to be done, Theodoric must
himself be the executioner or the assassin. He raised his sword to
strike. "Where is God?" cried the defenceless but unterrified victim.
"Thus didst thou to my friends", answered Theodoric, reminding him of
the treacherous murder of the "henchmen". Then with a tremendous stroke
of his broadsword he clove his rival from the shoulder to the loin. The
barbarian frenzy, which the Scandinavian minstrels call the "fury of the
Berserk", was in his heart, and with a savage laugh at his own too
impetuous blow, he shouted as the corpse fell to the ground: "I think
the weakling had never a bone in his body".

The body of Odovacar was laid in a stone coffin, and buried near the
synagogue of the Jews. His brother was mortally wounded while attempting
to escape through the palace-garden. His wife died of hunger in her
prison. His son, sent for safe-keeping to the king of the Visigoths in
Gaul, afterwards escaped to Italy and was put to death by the orders of
Theodoric. Thus perished the whole short-lived dynasty of the captain of
the _fœderati_.

In his long struggle for the possession of Italy, Theodoric had shown
himself patient in adversity, moderate in prosperity, brave,
resourceful, and enduring. But the memory of all these noble deeds is
dimmed by the crime which ended the tragedy, a crime by the commission
of which Theodoric sank below the level of the ordinary morality of the
barbarian, breaking his plighted word, and sinning against the faith of
hospitality.

[Illustration]




                             CHAPTER VIII.


                               CIVILITAS.

Transformation in the character of Theodoric--His title--Embassies to
Zeno and Anastasius--Theodoric's care for the rebuilding of cities and
repair of aqueducts--Encouragement of commerce and manufactures--Revival
of agriculture--Anecdotes of Theodoric.


Thus far we have followed the fortunes of a Teutonic warrior of the
fifth century of our era, marking his strange vacillations between
friendship and enmity to the great civilised Empire under the shattered
fabric whereof he and his people were dwelling, and neither concealing
nor extenuating any of his lawless deeds, least of all that deed of
treachery and violence by which he finally climbed to the pinnacle of
supreme power in Italy. Now, for the next thirty years, we shall have to
watch the career of this same man, ruling Italy with unquestioned
justice and wise forethought, making the welfare of every class of his
subjects the end of all his endeavours, and cherishing civilisation (or,
as it was called in the language of his chosen counsellors, _civilitas_)
with a love and devotion almost equal to that which religious zeal
kindles in the hearts of its surrendered votaries.

The transformation is a marvellous one. Success and unquestioned
dominion far more often deprave and distort than ennoble and purify the
moral nature of man. But something like this transformation was seen
when Octavian, the crafty and selfish intriguer, ripened into the wise
and statesmanlike Augustus. Nor have our own days been quite ignorant of
a similar phenomenon, when the stern soldier-politician of Germany, the
man who once seemed to delight in war and whose favourite motto had till
then been "blood and iron" having secured for his master the hegemony of
Europe, strove (or seems to have striven), during twenty difficult
years, to maintain peace among European nations, like one convinced in
his heart that War is the supreme calamity for mankind.

It is a threadbare saying, "Happy is the nation that has no annals", and
the miserable historians of the time tell us far too little about the
thirty years of peace which Italy enjoyed under the wise rule of
Theodoric; still we are told enough to enable us in some degree to
understand both what he accomplished and how he accomplished it. And one
thing which makes us accept the statements of these historians with
unquestioning belief is that they have no motive for the praises which
they so freely bestow on the great Ostrogoth. They are not his
countrymen, nor his fellow-religionists. Our chief authorities are Roman
and Orthodox, and bitterly condemn Theodoric for the persecution of the
Catholics, into which, as we shall see, he was provoked in the last two
years of his reign. Still, over the grave of this dead barbarian and
heretic, when they have nothing to gain by speaking well of him, they
cannot forbear to praise the noble impartiality and anxious care for the
welfare of his people, which, for the space of one whole generation,
gave happiness to Italy. It will be well to quote here one or two of
these testimonies, borne by impartial witnesses.

Our chief authority,[58] who is believed to have been a Catholic Bishop
of Ravenna, says:

"He was an illustrious man, and full of good-will towards all. He
reigned thirty-three (really thirty-two) years, and during thirty of
these years so great was the happiness of Italy that even the wayfarers
were at peace. For he did nothing wrong. So did he govern the two
nations, the Goths and Romans, as if they were one people, belonging
himself to the Arian sect, yet he ordained that the civil administration
should remain for the Romans as it had been under their Emperors. He
gave presents and rations to the people, yet, though he found the
Treasury ruined, he brought it round, by his own hard work, into a
flourishing state. He attempted nothing (during these first thirty
years) against the Catholic faith. Exhibiting games in the circus and
amphitheatre, he received from the Romans the names of Trajan and
Valentinian (the happy days of which most prosperous Emperors he did in
truth seek to restore), and, at the same time, the Goths rendered true
obedience to their valiant King, according to the Edict which he had
promulgated for them".

[Footnote 58: "Anonymus Valesii" (probably Bishop Maximian).]

"He gave one of his daughters in marriage to the King of the Visigoths
in Gaul, another to the son of the Burgundian King; his sister to the
King of the Vandals, and his niece to the King of the Thuringians. Thus
he pleased all the nations round him, for he was a lover of manufactures
and a great restorer of cities. He restored the aqueduct of Ravenna,
which Trajan had built; and again, after a long interval, brought water
into the city. He completed, but did not dedicate, the palace, and
finished the porticoes round it. At Verona he erected baths and a
palace, and constructed a portico from the gate to the palace. The
aqueduct, which had been long destroyed, he renewed, and brought in
water through it. He also surrounded the city with new walls. At Ticinum
(_Pavia_) too he built a palace, baths, and an amphitheatre, and erected
walls round the city. On many other cities also he bestowed similar
benefits.

"Thus he so charmed the nations near him that they entered into a league
with him, hoping that he would be their King. The merchants, too, from
divers provinces, flocked to his dominions, for so great was the order
which he maintained, that if any one wished to leave gold or silver on
his land (in his country house) it was as safe as in a walled city. A
proof of this was the fact that he never made gates for any-city of
Italy, and the gates already existing were not closed. Any one who had
business to transact could do it as safely by night as by day.

"In his time men bought wheat at 60 pecks for a _solidus_ (12 shillings
a quarter), and 30 amphoræ of wine for the same price (2_s_. 4_d_. a
gallon)".

So far the supposed Bishop of Ravenna. Now let us hear Procopius, an
official in the Imperial army which brought the Ostrogothic kingdom to
ruin:

"Theodoric was an extraordinary lover of justice, and adhered rigorously
to the laws. He guarded the country from barbarian invasions, and
displayed the greatest intelligence and prudence. There was in his
government scarcely a trace of injustice towards his subjects, nor would
he permit any of those under him to attempt anything of the kind, except
that the Goths divided among themselves the same proportion of the land
of Italy which Odovacar had allotted to his partisans. Thus then
Theodoric was in name a tyrant (that is, an irregular, because
barbarian, ruler), but in deed a true King (or Emperor), not inferior to
the best of his predecessors, and his popularity grew greatly, both
among Goths and Italians, and this fact (that he was popular with both
nations) was contrary to the ordinary fashion of human affairs. For
generally, as different classes in the State want different things, the
government which pleases one party has to incur the odium of those who
do not belong to it.

"After a reign of thirty-seven years[59] he died, having been a terror
to all his enemies, but leaving a deep regret for his loss in the hearts
of his subjects".

[Footnote 59: Really thirty-two years and a half from the death of
Odovacar, thirty-seven from the descent into Italy, thirty-eight from
Theodoric's departure from Novæ.]

So much for the general aspect of Theodoric's rule in Italy. Now let us
consider rather more in detail what was his precise position in that
country. And first as to the title by which he was known. It is
singularly difficult to say what this title was. It is quite clear that
Theodoric never claimed to be Emperor of the West, the successor of
Honorius and Augustulus. But there are grave reasons for doubting
whether he called himself, as has been often stated, "King of Italy". In
the fifth century territorial titles of this kind were, if not
absolutely unknown, at least very uncommon. The various Teutonic rulers
generally took their titles from the nations whom they led to battle,
Gaiseric being "King of the Vandals and Alans", Gundobad, "King of the
Burgundians", Clovis, "King of the Franks", and so forth. Upon the
whole, it seems most probable that Theodoric's full title was "_King of
the Goths and Romans in Italy_" [60] and that the allusion to "Romans" in
his title explains some of the conflict of testimony as to the source
from whence he derived his title of King. It is quite true that a
Teutonic sovereign like Theodoric, sprung from a long line of royal
ancestors, and chosen by the voice of his people to succeed their king,
his father, would not need, and except under circumstances of great
national humiliation would not accept, any grant of the kingly title, as
ruler over his own nation, from the Augustus at New Rome. But when it
came to claiming by the same title the obedience of Romans as well as
Goths, especially in that country which had once been the heart of the
Empire,--Theodoric, King of the Goths, might well be anxious to strain
all the resources of diplomacy in order to obtain from the legitimate
head of the Roman world the confirmation of those important words "and
Romans", which appeared in his regal title.[61]

[Footnote 60: Per Italiam.]

[Footnote 61: The chief advocates of the two opposite views here
indicated are Prof. Dahn (in his "Konige der Germanen; Abtheilung iv".)
and Prof. Gaudenzi ("Sui rapporti tra e l'Italia l'Impero d'Oriente"). I
believe that the view which is suggested above is the true
reconciliation of both theories.]

In the year 490, probably soon after the battle of the Adda, Theodoric
sent Faustus, an eminent Roman noble and "Chief of the Senate", on an
embassy to Zeno, "hoping that he might receive from that Emperor
permission to clothe himself with the royal mantle". It will be
remembered that in the compact between Roman and Teuton, which preceded
Theodoric's invasion of Italy, words had been used which implied that he
was only to rule as "locum tenens" of the Emperor till he himself should
arrive to claim the supremacy. Now, with that conquest apparently almost
completed, and with his rival fast sealed up in Ravenna, Theodoric sends
a report of his success of the enterprise undertaken "on joint account",
and desires to legalise his position by a formal grant of the mantle of
royalty from the Autocrat of the World.

The time of the arrival of Theodoric's embassy at Constantinople was
unpropitious, as the Emperor Zeno was already stricken by mortal
illness. On the 9th of April, 491, he died, and was succeeded by the
handsome but elderly life-guardsman, Anastasius, to whom Ariadne, widow
of Zeno, gave her hand in marriage. The rights and duties which
pertained to the compact between Theodoric and Zeno were perhaps
considered as of only personal obligation. It might plausibly be
contended by the Emperor's successor that he was not bound to recognise
the new royalty of his predecessor's, "filius in arma", and by Theodoric
that the conditional estate in Italy granted to him to hold "till Zeno
should himself arrive" became absolute, now that by the death of Zeno
that event was rendered impossible. However this may be, we hear no more
of negotiations between the Gothic camp and the Court of Constantinople
till the death of Odovacar(493). Then the Goths, apparently in some
great assembly of the nation, "confirmed Theodoric to themselves as
King", without waiting for the orders of the new Emperor.[62] Whatever
this ceremony may have imported, it must have in some way conferred on
Theodoric a fuller kingship, perhaps more of a territorial and less of a
tribal sovereignty than he had possessed when he was wandering with his
followers over the passes of the Balkans.

[Footnote 62: Gothi sibi confirmaverunt regem Theodericum, non expectata
jussione novi principis (Anastasii).--Anon. Vales., 57.]

Though Theodoric had not consulted the Emperor before taking this step,
he sent an ambassador, again Faustus, who now held the important post of
"Master of the Offices",[63] to Constantinople, probably in order to
give a formal notification of his self-assumed accession of dignity.[64]

[Footnote 63: The _Magister Officiorum_, who was at the head of the
civil service of the Empire (or Kingdom), combined some of the duties of
our Home Secretary with some of those of the Secretary for Foreign
Affairs.]

[Footnote 64: Faustus was accompanied by another nobleman--Irenæus. We
are not definitely informed of the object of their mission, but may
fairly infer it from the date of their departure.]

No messages or embassies, however, could yet soothe the wounded pride of
Anastasius. There was deep resentment at the Eastern Court, and for
three or four years there seems to have been a rupture of diplomatic
relations between Constantinople and Ravenna. At length, in the year
497, Theodoric sent another ambassador, Festus, (also an eminent Roman
noble and Chief of the Senate,) to Anastasius. This messenger, more
successful than his predecessor, "made peace with Anastasius concerning
Theodoric's premature assumption of royalty, and brought back all the
ornaments of the palace which Odovacar had transmitted to
Constantinople".[65]

[Footnote 65: Anon. Valesii.]

(497) This final ratification of the Ostrogoth's sovereignty in Italy is
so vaguely described to us that it is difficult to see how much it may
have implied. Probably it was to a certain extent convenient to both
parties that it should be left vague. The Emperor would not abandon any
hope, however shadowy, of one day winning back full possession of "the
Hesperian kingdom". The King might hope that, in the course of years or
generations, he himself, or his descendants, might sever the last link
of dependence on Constantinople, perhaps might one day establish
themselves as full-blown Emperors of Rome. The claims thus left in
vagueness were the seeds of future difficulties, and bore fruit forty
years later in a bloody and desolating war, but meanwhile the position,
as far as we can ascertain it, seems to have been something like this.
Theodoric, "King of the Goths and Romans in Italy", was absolute ruler
of the country _de facto_, except in so far as the Gothic nation,
assembled under arms at its periodical parades, may have exercised some
check on his full autocracy. He made peace and war, he nominated the
high officers of state, even one of the two Consuls, who still kept
alive the fiction of the Roman Republic; he probably regulated the
admissions to the Senate; he was even in the last resort arbiter of the
fortunes of the Roman Church.

On the other hand, he did not himself coin gold or silver money with his
effigy; but in this he was not singular, for it was not till a
generation or two had elapsed that any of the new barbarian royalties
thought it worth while to claim this attribute of sovereignty. Though
dressed in the purple of royalty, by assuming the title of King only, he
accepted a position somewhat lower than that of the Emperor of the New
Rome. He sent the names of the Consuls whom he had appointed to
Constantinople, an act which might be represented as a mere piece of
formal courtesy, or as a request for their ratification, according to
the point of view of the narrator. With a similar show of courtesy, or
submission, the accession of Theodoric's descendants to the throne was,
when the occasion arose, notified to the then reigning Emperor. And
there were many limitations which the good sense and statesmanlike
feeling of the Ostrogothic king imposed on his exercise of the royal
power, but which might be, perhaps were, represented as part of the
fundamental compact between him and the Emperor of Rome. Such were the
employment of men of Roman birth by preference, in all the great offices
of the state; absolute impartiality between the rival creeds, Catholic
and Arian (to the latter of which Theodoric himself was an adherent);
and a determination to abstain as much as possible from all fresh
legislation which might modify the rights and duties of the Roman
inhabitants of Italy, the legislative power being chiefly exercised in
order to provide for those new cases which arose out of the settlement
of so large a number of new-comers of alien blood within the borders of
the land.

After all the attempts which have been made to explain and to
systematise the relation between the new barbarian royalties and the old
and tottering Empire, much remains which is absolutely incapable of
definition, but perhaps an historical parallel, though not strictly
accurate, may somewhat aid our comprehension of the subject. It is
well-known how for the first hundred years of the English _Raj_ in
India the power which actually resided in an association of traders,
the old East India Company, and which was wielded under their orders by
a Clive, a Hastings, or a Wellesley, was theoretically vested in an
Emperor, the descendant of "the Great Mogul", who lived in seclusion in
his palace at Delhi, and who, though nominally all-powerful, had really,
as Macaulay has said, "less power to help or to hurt than the youngest
civil servant of the Company". Now assuredly Anastasius and Justin, the
Imperial contemporaries of Theodoric, were no mere phantoms of royalty,
like the last Mogul Emperors of Delhi, but as far as actual efficacious
share in the government of Italy went, the parallel holds good. Such
deference as was paid to their name and authority was a mere courteous
form; the whole power of the State--subject, as has been said, to the
limitations still imposed by the popular institutions of the Goths--was
gathered up in the hands of Theodoric.

What then, it may be said, was gained by keeping up the fiction that
Italy still formed part of the Roman Empire, and that Theodoric ruled in
any sense as the delegate of the Emperor? For the present, much (though
at the cost of future entanglements and complications), since it
facilitated that union of "Romania" and "Barbaricum", which was the next
piece of work obviously necessary for Europe. If the reader will recur
to that noble sentence of Ataulfus, which was quoted in the introduction
to this book,[66] he will see that the reasoning of that great chieftain
took this shape: "A Commonwealth must have laws. The Goths, accustomed
for generations to their tameless freedom, have not acquired the habit
of obedience to the laws. Till they acquire that habit, the
administration of the State must be left in Roman hands, and all the
authority of the King must be used in defence of Roman organisation".

[Footnote 66: See p. 4.]

These principles, though he may never have read the passage of Orosius
which expounded them, were essentially the principles of Theodoric. So
long as he remained in antagonism to the Empire, he could not reckon on
the hearty co-operation of Roman officials in the task of government.
The brave, through patriotism, and the cowardly, through fear of coming
retribution, would decline to be known as his adherents, and would stand
aloof from his work of re-organization. But when it was known that even
the great Augustus at Constantinople, "Our Lord Anastasius, Father of
his Country" (as the coins styled him), recognised the royalty of
Theodoric, and had in some sort confided to him the government of Italy,
all the great army of civil servants, who performed the functions of
that highly specialised organism, the Roman State, could, without fear
and without reproach, accept office under the new-comer, and could look
forward again, as they had done before, to a fortunate official career,
to the honours and emoluments which were the recognised reward of the
successful civil servant.

In the next chapter, I shall describe with a little more detail the
character and the duties of some of these Roman officials. For the
present we will rather consider the nature of the work which Theodoric
accomplished through their instrumentality. We have already heard from a
nearly contemporary chronicler, the story of some of the great
civilising works which he wrought in the wasted land, the aqueducts of
Ravenna and Verona, the walls of Verona and Pavia, the baths, the
palace, and the amphitheatre. More important for the great mass of his
subjects was the perfect security which he gave to the merchant for his
commerce, to the husbandman for the fruit of his toil. Corn, as we have
seen, sank to the extraordinarily low price of twelve shillings a
quarter. But this low price did not mean, as it might in our country,
the depression of the agricultural interest, through the rivalry of the
foreign producer. On the contrary, the great economic symptom of
Theodoric's reign--and under the circumstances a most healthy
symptom--was that Italy, from a corn-importing became a corn-exporting
country. Under the old emperors, whose rule was a most singular blending
of autocracy and demagogy, in fact a kind of crowned socialism, every
nerve had been strained to bring from Alexandria and Carthage the corn
which was distributed gratuitously to the idle population of Rome. Under
such hopeless competition as this, together with the demoralising
influence of slave labour, large tracts of Italy had actually gone out
of cultivation. Now, by political changes, the merit of which must not
be claimed for the Ostrogothic government, both Egypt and Africa had
become unavailable for the supply of the necessities of Rome. Theodoric
and his ministers may however be praised for that prevalence of order
and good government, which enabled the long prostrate agriculture of
Italy to spring up like grass after a summer shower. The conditions of
prosperity were there, and only needed the removal of adverse influences
and mistaken benevolence to bring forth their natural fruit. The
grain-largesses to the people of Rome were indeed still continued in a
modified form, but the stores thus dispensed seemed to have been brought
almost entirely from Italy.[67] When Gaul was visited with famine, the
ship-masters along the whole western coast of Italy were permitted and
encouraged to take the surplus of the Italian crops to the suffering
province. Even in a time of dearth and after war had begun, corn was
sold by the State to the impoverished inhabitants of Liguria at sixteen
shillings a quarter.[68] Altogether we seem justified in asserting that
the economic condition of Italy, both as to the producers and the
consumers of its food-supplies, was more prosperous under Theodoric than
it had been for centuries before, or than it was to be for centuries
afterwards.

[Footnote 67: Once they are mentioned as coming from Spain (Cassiodorus,
Var., v., 35), but this seems to be an exception.]

[Footnote 68: Cass. Var., x., 27. This is some years after the death of
Theodoric.]

I have already made some reference to Aqueducts, which were among the
noblest and most beneficial works that any ruler of Italy could
accomplish. Ravenna, situated in an unhealthy swamp where water fit for
drinking was proverbially dearer than wine[69] was pre-eminently
dependent on such supplies of the precious fluid as could be brought
fresh and sparkling from the distant Apennines. Theodoric issued an
order to all the farmers dwelling along the course of the Aqueduct to
eradicate the shrubs growing by its side, which would otherwise fix
their roots in the bed of the stream, loosen the masonry, and cause many
a dangerous leak. "This being done", said the Secretary of State, "we
shall again have baths that we may look upon with pleasure, water which
will cleanse, not stain, water after using which we shall not require
again to wash ourselves: drinking-water, the mere sight of which will
not take away our appetite".[70] Similar care was needed to preserve the
great Aqueducts which were the glory of Imperial Rome, as even now their
giant arches, striding for miles over the desolate Campagna, are her
most impressive monument. At Rome also the officer who was specially
charged with the maintenance of these noble works, the "Count of the
Aqueducts", was exhorted to show his zeal by rooting up hurtful trees,
and by at once repairing any part of the masonry that seemed to be
falling into decay through age. He was warned against peculation and
against connivance at the frauds which often marked the distribution of
the water supply, and he was assured that the strengthening of the
Aqueducts would constitute his best claim on the favour of his
sovereign.[71]

[Footnote 69: There is a well known epigram of Martial, in which he
complains of an inn-keeper of Ravenna for diluting his water with wine,
when the poet had paid for pure water.]

[Footnote 70: Cass. Var., v., 38.]

[Footnote 71: Ibid., vii., 6.]

But while in most parts of Italy water is a boon eagerly craved for, in
some places it is a superabundance and a curse. At Terracina on the
Latian coast there still stands in the piazza a slab of marble with a
long inscription, setting forth that "The most illustrious lord and
renowed king, Theodoric, triumphant conqueror, ever Augustus, born for
the good of the Commonwealth, guardian of liberty and propagator of the
Roman name, subduer of the nations", ordered that nineteen miles of the
Appian Way, being the portion extending from Three-bridges
_(Tripontium)_ to Terracina should be cleared of the waters which had
flowed together upon it from the marshes on either side. A nobleman of
the very highest rank, Consul, Patrician, and Prefect of the City,
Cæcina Maurus Basilius Decius, successfully accomplished this work under
the orders of his sovereign, and for the safety thus afforded to
travellers, was rewarded by a large grant of the newly-drained
lands.[72]

[Footnote 72: Cass., Var., ii., 32, 33.]

We have seen that Theodoric's anonymous panegyrist calls him "a lover of
manufactures and a great restorer of cities". Of the manufactures
encouraged by the Ostrogothic king, we should have been glad to receive
a fuller account. All that I have been able to discover in the published
state-papers of himself and his successors at all bearing on this
subject is some instructions with reference to the opening of gold mines
in Bruttii (the modern Calabria), and iron mines in Dalmatia, a
concession of potteries to three senators, who are promised the royal
protection if they will prosecute the work diligently, and permission to
another nobleman to erect a row of workshops or manufactories
overlooking the Roman Forum.[73] The whole tenour of these State papers,
however, shows that public works were being diligently pushed on in
every quarter of Italy, and is entirely consistent with the praise
awarded to Theodoric "as a lover of manufactures".

[Footnote 73: Cass., Var., ix., 3; iv., 30; iii., 25; ii., 23.]

His zeal for the restoration of cities is by the same documents
abundantly manifested. At one time we find him giving orders for the
transport of marble slabs and columns to Ravenna, at another, directing
the repair of the walls of Catana, now rebuilding the walls and towers
of Arles, and now relieving the distress of Naples and Nola, which have
been half ruined by an eruption of Vesuvius.[74] His care for the
adornment of the cities of Italy with works of art is manifest, as well
as his zeal for their material enrichment. He hears with great disgust
that a brazen statue has been stolen from the city of Como. "It is
vexatious" says his Secretary, "that while we are labouring to increase
the ornaments of our cities, those which Antiquity has bequeathed to us
should be diminished by such deeds as this". A reward of 100 aurei
(£60), and a free pardon is offered to any accomplice who will assist in
the discovery of the chief offender.[75]

[Footnote 74: _Ibid_., iii., 9, 10, 49, 44; iv., 50.]

[Footnote 75: _Ibid_., ii., 35.]

But it is above all for Rome, for the glory and magnificence of Rome,
that this Ostrogothic king, in a certain sense the kinsman and
successor of her first ravager, Alaric, shows a tender solicitude. Her
Aqueducts, as we have seen, are to be repaired, her Cloacæ, those still
existing memorials of the civilisation of the earliest, the regal, Rome,
are to be carefully upheld; the thefts of brass and lead from the public
buildings, which have become frequent during the disorders of the past
century, are to be sternly repressed[76]; a spirited patrician[77] who
has restored the mighty theatre of Pompeius is encouraged and rewarded,
the Prefect of the City is stimulated to greater activity in the repair
of all the ruined buildings therein. "In Rome, praised beyond all other
cities by the world's mouth, it is not right that anything should be
found either sordid or mediocre".

[Footnote 76: Cass., Var., iii., 30, 31]

[Footnote 77: Symmachus.]

In all these counsels for the material well-being of Italy, and for the
repair of the ravages of anarchy and war, Theodoric was undoubtedly much
assisted by his ministers of Roman extraction, some of whom I shall
endeavour to portray in a later chapter. Still, though the details of
the work may have been theirs, it cannot be denied that the initiative
was his. A barbarian, thinking only barbarous thoughts, looking upon war
and the chase as the only employments worthy of a free man, would not
have chosen such counsellors, and, if he had found them in his service,
would not have kept them. Therefore, remembering those years of boyhood,
which he passed at Constantinople, at a time when the character is most
susceptible of strong and lasting impressions, I cannot doubt that
notwithstanding the frequent relapses into barbarism which marked his
early manhood, he was at heart a convert to civilisation, that his
desire was to obtain for "the Hesperian land" all that he had seen best
and greatest in the social condition of the city by the Bosphorus, and
that his Secretary truly expressed his deepest and inmost thoughts when
he made him speak of himself as one "whose whole care was to change
everything for the better".[78]

[Footnote 78: Nos quibus cordi est in melius cuncta mutare.--Cass.,
Var., ii., 21.]

I shall close this chapter with a few anecdotes--far too few have been
preserved to us--which serve to show what manner of man he appeared to
his contemporaries. Again I borrow from the anonymous author, the
supposed Bishop of Ravenna.

He was, we are told, unlettered,[79] though fond of the converse of
learned men, and so clumsy with his pen that after ten years of reigning
he was still unable to form without assistance the four letters (THEO)
which were affixed as his sign-manual to documents issued in his name.
In order to overcome this difficulty he had a golden plate prepared with
the necessary letters perforated in it, and drew his pen through the
holes.[80] But, though he was unlettered, his shrewdness and mother-wit
caused both his sayings and doings to be much noted and remembered by
his subjects. In one difficult case which came before him, he discovered
the truth by a sudden device which probably reminded the bystanders of
the Judgment of Solomon, A young man who as a child had been brought up
by a friend of his deceased father, returned to his home and claimed a
share of his inheritance from his mother. She, however, was on the point
of marriage with a second husband, and under her suitor's influence she
disowned the son whom she had at first welcomed with joy and had
entertained for a month in her house. As the suitor persisted in his
demand that the son should be turned out of doors, and the son refused
to leave his paternal abode, the case came before the King's Court,[81]
where the widow still persisted in her assertion that the young man was
not her son, but a stranger whom she had entertained merely out of
motives of hospitality. Suddenly the king turned round upon her and
said: "This young man is to be thy husband, I command thee to marry
him". The horror-stricken mother then confessed that he was indeed her
son.

[Footnote 79: Agrammatus.]

[Footnote 80: I have a slight distrust of this story, because it is told
in almost the same words of the contemporary Justin I., Emperor of the
East.]

[Footnote 81: I conjecture that the mother and son in this case were
Goths, possibly the suitor a Roman, and that this may have been the
reason why the case came to the King's Court instead of going before the
Prætorian Prefect.]

Some of Theodoric's sayings passed into proverbs among the common
people. One was: "He who has gold and he who has a devil can neither of
them hide what he has got" Another: "The Roman when in misery imitates
the Goth and the Goth in comfort imitates the Roman".

We have unfortunately no description of the great Ostrogoth's outward
appearance, though the indications in his history would lead us to
suppose that he was a man of stalwart form and soldierly bearing. Nor is
this deficiency adequately made up to us by his coins, since, as has
been already said, the gold and silver pieces which were circulated in
his reign bore the impress of the Eastern Emperor, and the miserable
little copper coins which bear his effigy do not pretend to portraiture.

[Illustration: HALF-SILIQUA OF THEODORIC (SILVER) BEARING THE HEAD OF
ANASTASIUS.]

[Illustration: Design]




                            CHAPTER IX.


                  ROMAN OFFICIALS--CASSIODORUS.

The government of Italy still carried on according to Roman
precedent--Classification of the officials--The Consulship and the
Senate--Cassiodorus, his character and his work--His history of the
Goths--His letters and state papers.


I have said that one of the most important characteristics of
Theodoric's government of Italy was that it was conducted in accordance
with the traditions of the Empire and administered mainly by officials
trained in the Imperial school. To a certain extent the same thing is
true of all the Teutonic monarchies which arose in the fifth century on
the ruins of the Empire. In dealing with the needs and settling the
disputes of the large, highly-organised communities, into whose midst
they had poured themselves, it was not possible, if it had been
desirable, for the rulers to remain satisfied with the simple, sometimes
barbarous, principles of law and administration which had sufficed for
the rude farmer-folk who dwelt in isolated villages beyond the Rhine and
the Danube. Nor was this necessity disliked by the rulers themselves.
They soon perceived that the Roman law, with its tendency to derive all
power from the Imperial head of the State, and the Roman official staff,
an elaborate and well-organised hierarchy, every member of which
received orders from one above him and transmitted orders to those
below, were far more favourable to their own prerogative and gave them a
far higher position over against their followers and comrades in war,
than the institutions which had prevailed in the forests of Germany.
Hence, as I have said, all the new barbarian royalties, even that of the
Vandals in Africa (in some respects more anti-Roman than any other),
preserved much of the laws and machinery of the Roman Empire; but
Theodoric's Italian kingdom preserved the most of all. It might in fact
almost be looked upon as a mere continuation of the old Imperial system,
only with a strong, laborious, martial Goth at the head of affairs, able
and willing to keep all the members of the official hierarchy sternly to
their work, instead of the ruler whom the last three generations had
been accustomed to behold, a man decked with the purple and diadem, but
too weak, too indolent, too nervously afraid of irritating some powerful
captain of _fœderati_, or some wealthy Roman noble, to be able to do
justice to all classes of his subjects.

The composition of the official hierarchy of the Empire is, from various
sources,[82] almost as fully known to us as that of any state of modern
Europe.

[Footnote 82: Chiefly the "Notitia Utriusque Imperii" (a sort of
official Red-book of the time of Honorius,) but also the "Various
Letters" of Cassiodorus, to be described below.]

Pre-eminent in dignity over all the rest rose the "Illustrious"
_Prætorian Prefect_, the vicegerent of the sovereign, a man who held
towards Emperor or King nearly the same position which a Grand Vizier
holds towards a Turkish Sultan. Like his sovereign he wore a purple robe
(which reached however only to his knees, not to his feet), and he drove
through the streets in a lofty official chariot. It was for him to
promulgate the Imperial laws, sometimes to put forth edicts of his own.
He proclaimed what taxes were to be imposed each year, and their produce
came into his "Prætorian chest". He suggested to his sovereign the names
of the governors of the provinces, paid them their salaries, and
exercised a general superintendence over them, having even power to
depose them from their offices. And lastly, he was the highest Judge of
Appeal in the land, even the Emperor himself having generally no power
to reverse his sentences.

There was another "Illustrious" minister, who, during this century both
in the Eastern and Western Empire, was always treading on the heels of
the Prætorian Prefect, and trying to rob him of some portion of his
power. This was the _Master of the Offices_ the intermediary between the
sovereign and the great mass of the civil servants, to whom the
execution of his orders was entrusted. _A swarm of Agentes in Rebus_
(King's messengers, bailiffs, sheriff's officers; we may call them by
all these designations) roved through the provinces, carrying into
effect the orders of the sovereign, always magnifying their "master's"
dignity, (whence they derived their epithet of "Magistriani",) and
seeking to depress the Prætorian Cohorts, who discharged somewhat
similar duties under the Prætorian Prefect. The Master of the Offices,
besides sharing the counsels of his sovereign in relation to foreign
states, had also the arsenals under his charge, and there was
transferred to him from his rival, the Prefect, the superintendence of
the _cursus publicus_, the great postal service of the Empire.

Again, somewhat overlapping, as it seems to us, the functions of the
Master of the Offices, came the "Illustrious" _Quæstor_, the
head-rhetorician of the State, the official whose business it was to put
the thoughts of the sovereign into fitting and eloquent words, either
when he was replying to the ambassadors of foreign powers, or when he
was issuing laws and proclamations to his own subjects. As his duties
and qualifications were of a more personal kind than those of his two
brother-ministers already described, he had not like them a large
official staff waiting upon his orders.

There were two great financial ministers, _the Count of Sacred
Largesses_ ("sacred", of course, is equivalent to "Imperial"), and the
_Count of Private Domains,_ whose duties practically related in the
former case to the personal, in the latter to the real, estate of the
sovereign. Or perhaps, for it is difficult exactly to define the nature
of their various duties, it would be better to think of the Count of
Sacred Largesses as the Imperial Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the
Count of Private Domains as the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests.

The _Superintendent of the Sacred Dormitory_ was the Grand Chamberlain
of the Empire, and commanding, as he did, the army of pages, grooms of
the bed-chamber, vestiaries, and life-guardsmen, who ministered to the
myriad wants of an Arcadius or a Honorius, he was not the least
important among the chief officers of the State.

These great civil ministers, eight in number under the Western Emperors
(for there were three Prætorian Prefects, one for the Gauls, one for
Italy, and one for the City of Rome), formed, with the military officers
of highest rank (generally five in number), the innermost circle of
"Illustres", who may be likened to the Cabinet of the Emperor. At this
time the Cabinet of Illustres may have been smaller by one or two
members, on account of the separation of the Gaulish provinces from
Rome, but we are not able to speak positively on this point.

Nearly every one of these great ministers of state had under him a
large, ambitious, and often highly-paid staff of subordinates, who were
called his _Officium._ The civil service was at least as regular and
highly specialised a profession under the Emperors and under Theodoric
as it is in any modern State. It is possible that we should have to go
to the Celestial Empire of China to find its fitting representative. A
large number of _singularii, rationalii, clavicularii,_ and the like
(whom we should call policemen, subordinate clerks, and gaolers) formed
the "Unlettered Staff" _(Militia Illiterata),_ who stood on the lowest
stage of the bureaucratic pyramid. Above these was the lettered staff,
beginning with the humble chancellor _(Cancellarius),_ who sat by the
_cancelli_ (latticework), at the bottom of the Court (to prevent
importunate suitors from venturing too far), and rising to the dignified
_Princeps or Cornicularius,_ who was looked upon as equal in rank to a
Count, and who expected to make an income of not less than £600 a year,
equivalent to two or three times that amount in our day.

All this great hierarchy of officials wielded powers derived, mediately
or immediately, from the Emperor (or in the Ostrogothic monarchy from
the King), and great as was their brilliancy in the eyes of the dazzled
multitudes who crouched before them, it was all reflected from him, who
was the central sun of their universe. But there were still two
institutions which were in theory independent of Emperor or King, which
were yet held venerable by men, and which had come down from the days of
the great world-conquering republic, or the yet earlier days of Romulus
and Numa. These two institutions were the Consulship and the Senate.

The _Consuls,_ as was said in an earlier chapter, still appeared to
preside over the Roman Republic, as they had in truth presided, wielding
between them the full power of a king, when Brutus and Collatinus, a
thousand years before Theodoric's commencement of the siege of Ravenna,
took their seat upon the curule chairs, and donned the _trabea_ of the
Consul. Still, though utterly shorn of its power, the glamour of the
venerable office remained. The Emperor himself seemed to add to his
dignity when he allowed himself to be nominated as Consul, and in
nothing was the cupidity of the tyrant Emperors and the moderation of
the patriot Emperors better displayed than in the number of Consulships
which they claimed or forbore from claiming. Ever since the virtual
division of the Empire into an Eastern and Western portion, it had been
usual, though not absolutely obligatory, for one Consul to be chosen out
of each half of the _Orbis Romanus,_ and in reading the contemporary
chronicles we can almost invariably tell to which portion the author
belongs by observing to which Consul's name he gives the priority. As
has been already stated, after the resumption of friendly relations
between Ravenna and Constantinople, Theodoric, while naming the Western
Consul, sent a courteous notification of the fact to the Emperor, by
whom his nomination seems to have been always accepted without question.
The great Ostrogoth, having once worn the Consular robes and distributed
largess to "the Roman People" in the streets of Constantinople, does not
seem to have cared a second time to assume that ancient dignity, but in
the year 519, towards the end of his reign, he named his son-in-law,
Eutharic, Consul, and the splendour of Eutharic's year of office was
enhanced by the fact that he had the then reigning Emperor, Justin, for
his colleague. As for the _Senate,_ it too was still in appearance what
it had ever been,--the highest Council in the State, the assembly of
kings which overawed the ambassador of Pyrrhus, the main-spring, or, if
not the main-spring, at any rate the balance-wheel, of the
administrative machine. This it was in theory, for there had never been
any formal abolition of its existence or abrogation of its powers. In
practice it was just what the sovereign, whether called Emperor or King,
allowed it to be. A self-willed and arbitrary monarch, like Caligula or
Domitian, would reduce its functions to a nullity. A wise and moderate
Emperor, like Trajan or Marcus Aurelius, would consult it on all
important state-affairs, and, while reserving to himself both the power
of initiation and that of final control, would make of it a real Council
of State, a valuable member of the governing body of the Empire. The
latter seems to have been the policy of Theodoric. Probably the very
fact of his holding a somewhat doubtful position towards the Emperor at
Constantinople made him more willing to accept all the moral support
that could be given him by the body which was in a certain sense older
and more august than any Emperor, the venerable Senate of Rome. At any
rate, the letters in which he announces to the Senate the various acts,
especially the nomination of the great officials of his kingdom, in
which he desires their concurrence, are couched in such extremely
courteous terms, that sometimes civility almost borders on servility.
Notwithstanding this, however, it is quite plain that it was always
thoroughly understood who was master in Italy, and that any attempt on
the part of the Senate to wrest any portion of real power from Theodoric
would have been instantly and summarily suppressed.

I have said that it was only by the aid of officials, trained in the
service of the Empire that Theodoric, or indeed any of the new barbarian
sovereigns, could hope to keep the machine of civil government in
working order. We have, fortunately, a little information as to some of
these officials, and an elaborate self-drawn picture of one of them.

_Liberius_ had been a faithful servant of Odovacar; and had to the last
remained by the sinking vessel of his fortunes. This fidelity did not
injure him in the estimation of the conqueror. When all was over, he
came, with no eagerness, and with unconcealed sorrow for the death of
his former master, to offer his services to Theodoric, who gladly
accepted them, and gave him at once the pre-eminent dignity of Prætorian
Prefect. His wise and economical management of the finances filled the
royal exchequer without increasing the burdens of the tax-payer, and it
is probable that the early return of prosperity to Italy, which was
described in the last chapter, was, in great measure, due to the just
and statesmanlike administration of Liberius. In the delicate business
of allotting to the Gothic warriors the third part of the soil of Italy,
which seems to have been their recognised dividend on Theodoric's
Italian speculation, he so acquitted himself as to win the approbation
of all. It is difficult for us to understand how such a change of
ownership can have brought with it anything but heart-burning and
resentment. But (1) there are not wanting indications that, owing to
evil influences both economic and political, there was actually a large
quantity of good land lying unoccupied in Italy in the fifth century;
and (2) there had already been one expropriation of the same kind for
the benefit of the soldiers of Odovacar. In so far as this allotment of
Thirds[83] merely followed the lines of that earlier redistribution, but
little of a grievance was caused to the Italian owner. An Ostrogoth, the
follower of Theodoric, stepped into the position of a slain Scyrian or
Turcilingian, the follower of Odovacar, and the Italian owner suffered
no further detriment. Still there must have been some loss to the
provincials and some cases of hardship which would be long and bitterly
remembered, before every family which crossed the Alps in the Gothic
waggons was safely settled in its Italian home. It is therefore not
without some qualification that we can accept the statement of the
official panegyrist[84] of the Gothic _regime_, who declares that in
this business of the allotment of the Thirds "Liberius joined both the
hearts and the properties of the two nations, Gothic and Roman. For
whereas neighbourhood often proves a cause of enmity, with these men
communion of farms proved a cause of concord.[85] Thus the division of
the soil promoted the concord of the owners; friendship grew out of the
loss of the provincials, and the land gained a defender, whose
possession of part guaranteed the quiet enjoyment of the remainder". It
is possible that there was some foundation of truth for the last
statement. After the fearful convulsions through which the whole Western
Empire had passed, and with the strange paralysis of the power of
self-defence which had overtaken the once brave and hardy population of
Italy, it is possible that the presence, near to each considerable
Italian landowner, of a Goth whose duty to his king obliged him to
defend the land from foreign invasion, and to suppress with a strong
hand all robbery and brigandage, may have been felt in some cases as a
compensation even for whatever share of the soil of Italy was
transferred to Goth from Roman by the Chief Commissioner, Liberius.

[Footnote 83: Deputatio Tertiarum.]

[Footnote 84: Cassiodorus, Var., ii., 16.]

[Footnote 85: Nam cum se homines soleant de vicinitate collidere, istis
prædiorum communio causam noscitur præstitisse concordiæ. Sic enim
contigit ut utraque natio, dum commumater vivit ad unum velle
convenerit.]

Two eminent Romans, whom in the early years of his reign Theodoric
placed in high offices of state, were the two successive ambassadors to
Constantinople, _Faustus_ and _Festus_. Both seem to have held the high
dignity of Prætorian Prefect. We do not, however, hear much as to the
career of Festus, and what we hear of Faustus is not altogether to his
credit. He had been for several years practically the Prime Minister of
Theodoric, when in an evil hour for his reputation he coveted the estate
of a certain Castorius, whose land adjoined his own. Deprived of his
patrimony, Castorius appealed, not in vain, to the justice of Theodoric,
whose ears were not closed, as an Emperor's would probably have been, to
the cry of a private citizen against a powerful official. "We are
determined", says Theodoric, in his reply to the petition of Castorius,
"to assist the humble and to repress the violence of the proud. If the
petition of Castorius prove to be well-founded, let the spoiler restore
to Castorius his property and hand over besides another estate of equal
value. If the Magnificent Faustus have employed any subordinate in this
act of injustice, bring him to us bound with chains that he may pay for
the outrage in person, if he cannot do so in purse. If on any future
occasion that now known craftsman of evil (Faustus) shall attempt to
injure the aforesaid Castorius, let him be at once fined fifty pounds of
gold (£2,000). Greatest of all punishments will be the necessity of
beholding the untroubled estate of the man whom he sought to ruin.
Behold herein a deed which may well chasten and subdue the hearts of all
our great dignitaries when they see that not even a Prætorian Prefect is
permitted to trample on the lowly, and that when we put forth our arm to
help, such an one's power of injuring the wretched fails him. From this
may all men learn how great is our love of justice, since we are willing
to diminish even the power of our judges, that we may increase the
contentment of our own conscience". This edict was followed by a letter
to the Illustrious Faustus himself, in which that grasping governor was
reminded that human nature frequently requires a change, and permission
was graciously given him to withdraw for four months into the country.
At the end of that time he was without fail to return to the capital,
since no Roman Senator ought to be happy if permanently settled
anywhere but at Rome. It is tolerably plain that the four months'
_villeggiatura_ was really a sentence of temporary banishment, and we
may probably conclude that the Magnificent Faustus never afterwards held
any high position under Theodoric.

The letters announcing the King's judgment in this matter, like all the
other extant state-papers of Theodoric, were written by a man who was
probably by the fall of Faustus raised a step in the official hierarchy,
and who was certainly for the last twenty years of the reign of
Theodoric one of the most conspicuous of his Roman officials. This was
Cassiodorus, or, to give him his full name, _Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus
Senator_, a man, whose life and character require to be described in
some detail.

Cassiodorus was sprung from a noble Roman family, which had already
given three of its members in lineal succession (all bearing the name
Cassiodorus) to the service of the State. His great-grandfather, of
"Illustrious" rank, defended Sicily and Calabria from the incursions of
the Vandals. His grandsire, a Tribune in the army, was sent by the
Emperor Valentinian III. on an important embassy to Attila. His father
filled first one and then the other of the two highest financial offices
in the State under Odovacar. On the overthrow of that chieftain, he,
like Liberius, transferred his services to Theodoric, who employed him
as governor first of Sicily, then of Calabria, and finally, about the
year 500, conferred upon him the highest dignity of all, that of
Prætorian Prefect. The ancestral possessions of the Cassiodori were
situated m that southernmost province, sometimes likened to the toe of
Italy, which was then called Bruttii, and is now called Calabria. It was
a land rich in cattle, renowned for its cheese and for its aromatic,
white Palmatian wine; and veins of gold were said to be in its
mountains. Here, in the old Greek city of Scyllacium _(Sguillace)_, "a
city perched upon a high hill overlooking the sea, sunny yet fanned by
cool Mediterranean breezes, and looking peacefully on the cornfields,
the vineyards, and the olive-groves around her",[86] Cassiodorus was
born, about the year 480. He was therefore probably some twelve or
thirteen years of age when the long strife between Odovacar and
Theodoric was ended by the murder scene in the palace at Ravenna.

[Footnote 86: The description is taken from Cassiodorus, Var., xii.,
15.]

Like all the young Roman nobles who aspired to the honours and
emoluments of public life, Cassiodorus studied philosophy and rhetoric,
and, according to the standard of the age, a degraded standard, he
acquired great proficiency in both lines of study. When his father was
made Prætorian Prefect (about the year 500), the young rhetorician
received an appointment as _Consiliarius_, or Assessor in the Prefect's
court, at a salary which probably did not exceed forty or fifty pounds.
While he was holding this position, it fell to his lot to pronounce a
laudatory oration on Theodoric (perhaps on the occasion of one of his
visits to Rome), and the eloquence of the young _Consiliarius_ so
delighted the King, that he was at once made an "Illustrious" Quæstor,
thus receiving what we should call cabinet-rank while he was still
considerably under thirty years of age. The Quæstor, as has been said,
was the Public Orator of the State. It devolved upon him to reply to the
formal harangues in which the ambassadors of foreign nations greeted his
master, to answer the petitions of his subjects, and to see that the
edicts of the sovereign were expressed in proper terms. The post exactly
fitted the intellectual tendencies of Cassiodorus, who was never so
happy as when he was wrapping up some commonplace thought in a garment
of sonorous but turgid rhetoric; and the simple honesty of his moral
nature, simple in its very vanity and honest in its childlike egotism,
coupled as it was with real love for his country and loyal zeal for her
welfare, endeared him in his turn to Theodoric, with whom he had many
"_gloriosa colloquia_" (as he calls them), conversations in which the
young, learned, and eloquent Roman poured forth for his master the
stored up wine of generations of philosophers and poets, while the
kingly barbarian doubtless unfolded some of the propositions of that
more difficult science, the knowledge of men, which he had acquired by
long and arduous years of study in the council-chamber, on the
mountain-march, and on the battle-field.

We can go at once to the fountain-head for information as to the
character of Cassiodorus. When he was promoted, soon after the death of
Theodoric, to the rank of Prætorian Prefect, it became his duty, as
Quæstor to the young King Athalaric (Theodoric's successor), to inform
himself by an official letter of the honour conferred upon him. In
writing this letter, he does not deviate from the usual custom of
describing the virtues and accomplishments which justify the new
minister's promotion. Why indeed should he keep silence on such an
occasion? No one could know the good qualities of Cassiodorus so well or
so intimately as Cassiodorus himself, and accordingly the Quæstor sets
forth, with all the rhetoric of which he had such an endless supply, the
virtues and the accomplishments which his observant eye has discovered
in himself, the new Prætorian Prefect. Such a course would certainly not
be often pursued by a modern statesman, but there is a pleasing
ingenuousness about it which to some minds will be more attractive than
our present methods, the "inspired" article in a hired newspaper, or the
feigned reluctance to receive a testimonial which, till the receiver
suggested it, no one had dreamed of offering.

This then is how Cassiodorus, in 533, describes his past career[87]:
"You came (his young sovereign, Athalaric, is supposed to be addressing
him) in very early years to the dignity of Quæstor; and mv grandfather's
(Theodoric's) wonderful insight into character was never more abundantly
proved than in your case, for he found you to be endued with rare
conscientiousness, and already ripe in your knowledge of the laws. You
were in truth the chief glory of your times, and you won his favour by
arts which none could blame, for his mind, by nature anxious in all
things, was able to lay aside its cares while you supported the weight
of the royal counsels with the strength of your eloquence. In you he had
a charming secretary, a rigidly upright judge, a minister to whom
avarice was unknown. You never fixed a scandalous tariff for the sale of
his benefits; you chose to take your reward in public esteem, not in
riches. Therefore it was that this most righteous ruler chose you to be
honoured by his glorious friendship, because he saw you to be free from
all taint of corrupt vices. How often did he fix your place among his
white-haired counsellors; inasmuch as they, by the experience of years,
had not come up to the point from which you had started! He found that
he could safely praise your excellent disposition, open-handed in
bestowing benefits, tightly closed against the vices of avarice".

[Footnote 87: Variæ, ix., 24.]

"Thus you passed on to the dignity of Master of the Offices,[88] which
you obtained, not by a pecuniary payment, but as a testimony to your
character. In that office you were ever ready to help the Quæstors, for
when pure eloquence was needed men always resorted to you; and, in fact,
when you were at hand and ready to help, there was no accurate division
of labour among the various offices of the State.[89] No one could find
an occasion to murmur aught against you, although you bore all the
unpopularity which accompanies the favour of a prince".

[Footnote 88: The date of Cassiodorus' first promotion to this dignity
is uncertain, but it was probably about 518.]

[Footnote 89: Non enim proprios fines sub te ulla dignitas custodivit.
(Of course there is a certain anachronism in representing a statesman of
the sixth century as using the phrase "division of labour".)]

Your detractors were conquered by the integrity of your life; your
adversaries, bowing to public opinion, were obliged to praise even while
they hated you.

"To the lord of the land you showed yourself a friendly judge and an
intimate minister. When public affairs no longer claimed him, he would
ask you to tell him the stories in which wise men of old have clothed
their maxims, that by his own deeds he might equal the ancient heroes.
The courses of the stars, the ebb and flow of the sea, the marvels of
springing fountains,--nto all these subjects would that most acute
questioner inquire, so that by his diligent investigations into the
nature of things, he seemed to be a philosopher in the purple".

This sketch of the character of the minister throws light incidentally
on that of the monarch who employed him. Of course, as a general rule,
history cannot allow the personages with whom she deals to write their
own testimonials, but in this case there is reason to think that the
self-portraiture of Cassiodorus is accurate in its main outlines, though
our modern taste would have suggested the employment of somewhat less
florid colouring.

One literary service which Cassiodorus rendered to the Ostrogothic
monarchy is thus described by himself, still speaking in his young
king's name and addressing the Roman Senate.[90]

[Footnote 90: Variæ ix., 25.]

"He was not satisfied with extolling surviving Kings, from whom their
panegyrist might hope for a reward. He extended his labours to our
remote ancestry, learning from books that which the hoary memories of
our old men scarcely retained. He drew forth from their hiding-place the
Kings of the Goths, hidden by long forgetfulness. He restored the Amals
in all the lustre of their lineage, evidently proving that we have Kings
for our ancestors up to the seventeenth generation. He made the origin
of the Goths part of Roman history, collecting into one wreath the
flowers which had previously been scattered over the wide plains of
literature. Consider, therefore, what love he showed to you (the Senate)
in uttering our praises, while teaching that the nation of your
sovereign has been from ancient time a marvellous people: so that you
who from the days of your ancestors have been truly deemed noble are
also now ruled over by the long-descended progeny of Kings".

These sentences relate to the "Gothic History" of Cassiodorus, which
once existed in twelve books, but is now unfortunately lost. A hasty
abridgment of it, made by an ignorant monk named Jordanes, is all that
now remains. Even this, with its many faults, is a most precious
monument of the early history of the Teutonic invaders of the Empire,
and it is from its pages that much of the information contained in the
previous chapters is drawn. The object of the original statesman-author
in composing his "Gothic History" is plainly stated in the above
sentences. He wishes to heal the wound given to Roman pride by the fact
of the supremacy in Italy of a Gothic lord; and in order to effect this
object he strings together all that he can collect of the Sagas of the
Gothic people, showing the great deeds of the Amal progenitors of
Theodoric, whose lineage he traces back into distant centuries. "It is
true" he seems to say to the Senators of Rome, "that you, who once ruled
the world, are now ruled by an alien; but at least that alien is no
new-comer into greatness. He and his progenitors have been crowned Kings
for centuries. His people, who are quartered among you and claim
one-third of the soil of Italy, are an old, historic people. Their
ancestors fought under the walls of Troy; they defeated Cyrus, King of
Persia; they warred not ingloriously with Perdiccas of Macedonia".

These classical elements of the Gothic history of Cassiodorus (which
rest chiefly on a misunderstanding of the vague and unscientific term
"Scythians") are valueless for the purposes of history; but the old
Gothic Sagas, of which he has evidently also preserved some fragments,
are both interesting and valuable. When a nation has played so important
a part on the theatre of the world as that assigned to the Goths, even
their legendary stories of the past are precious. Whether these early
Amal Kings fought and ruled and migrated as the Sagas represent them to
have done, or not, in any case the belief that these were their
achievements was a part of the intellectual heritage of the Gothic
peoples. The songs to whose lullaby the cradle of a great nation is
rocked are a precious possession to the historian.

The other most important work of Cassiodorus is the collection of
letters called the _Variæ,_ in twelve books. This collection contains
all the chief state-papers composed by him during the period (somewhat
more than thirty years) which was covered by his official life. Five
books are devoted to the letters written at the dictation of Theodoric;
two to the _Formulæ_ or model-letters addressed to the various
dignitaries of the State on their accession to office; three to the
letters written in the name of Theodoric's immediate successors (his
grandson, daughter, and nephew); and two to those written by Cassiodorus
himself in his own name when he had attained the crowning dignity of
Prætorian Prefect.

I have already made some extracts from this collection of "Various
Epistles" and the reader, from the specimens thus submitted to him, will
have formed some conception of the character of the author's style. That
style is diffuse and turgid, marked in an eminent degree with the
prevailing faults of the sixth century, an age of literary decay, when
the language of Cicero and Virgil was falling into its dotage. There is
much ill-timed display of irrelevant learning, and a grievous absence of
simplicity and directness, in the "Various Epistles". It must be
regarded as a misfortune for Theodoric that his maxims of statesmanship,
which were assuredly full of manly sense and vigour, should have reached
us only in such a shape, diluted with the platitudes and false rhetoric
of a scholar of the decadence. Still, even through all these disguises,
it is easy to discern the genuine patriotism both of the great King and
of his minister, their earnest desire that right, not might, should
determine every case that came before them, their true insight into the
vices and the virtues of each of the two different nations which now
shared Italy between them, their persevering endeavour to keep
_civilitas_ intact, their determination to oppose alike the turbulence
of the Goth and the chicane of the scheming Roman.

As specimens of the rhetoric of Cassiodorus when he is trying his
highest flights, the reader may care to peruse the two following
letters. The first[91] was written to Faustus the Prætorian Prefect, to
complain of his delay in forwarding some cargoes of corn from Calabria
to Rome:

[Footnote 91: Var., i., 35.]

"What are you waiting for?" says Cassiodorus, writing in his master's
name. "Why are your ships not spreading their sails to the breeze? When
the South-wind is blowing and your oarsmen are urging on your vessels,
has the sucking-fish (Echeneis) fastened its bite upon them through the
liquid waves? Or have the shell-fishes of the Indian Sea with similar
power stayed your keels with their lips: those creatures whose quiet
touch is said to hold back, more than the tumultuous elements can
possibly urge forward? The idle bark stands still, though winged with
swelling sails, and has no way on her though the breeze is propitious;
she is fixed without anchors; she is moored without cables, and these
tiny animals pull back, more than all such favouring powers can propel.
Therefore when the subject wave would hasten the vessel's course, it
appears that it stands fixed on the surface of the sea: and in
marvellous style the floating ship is retained immovable, while the
wave is hurried along by countless currents.

"But let us describe the nature of another kind of fish. Perhaps the
crews of the aforesaid ships have been benumbed into idleness by the
touch of a torpedo, by which the right hand of him who attacks it is so
deadened--even through the spear by which it is itself wounded--that
while still part of a living body it hangs down benumbed without sense
or motion. I think some such misfortunes must have happened to men who
are unable to move themselves.

"But no. The sucking-fish of these men is their hindering corruption.
The shell-fishes that bite them are their avaricious hearts. The torpedo
that benumbs them is lying guile. With perverted ingenuity they
manufacture delays, that they may seem to have met with a run of
ill-luck.

"Let your Greatness, whom it especially behoves to take thought for such
matters, cause that this be put right by speediest rebuke: lest the
famine, which will otherwise ensue, be deemed to be the child of
negligence rather than of the barrenness of the land".

The occasion of the second letter (Var., x., 30.) was as follows. Some
brazen images of elephants which adorned the Sacred Street of Rome were
falling into ruin, Cassiodorus, writing in the name of one of
Theodoric's successors, to the Prefect of the City, orders that their
gaping limbs should be strengthened by hooks, and their pendulous
bellies should be supported by masonry. He then proceeds to give to the
admiring Prefect some wonderful information as to the natural history
of the elephant. He regrets that the metal effigies should be so soon
destroyed, when the animal which they represent is accustomed to live
more than a thousand years.

"The living elephant" he says, "when it is once prostrate on the ground,
cannot rise unaided, because it has no joints in its feet. Hence when
they are helping men to fell timber, you see numbers of them lying on
the earth till men come and help them to rise. Thus this creature, so
formidable by its size, is really more helpless than the tiny ant. The
elephant, wiser than all other creatures, renders religious adoration to
the Ruler of all: also to good princes, but if a tyrant approach, it
will not pay him the homage which is due only to the virtuous. It uses
its proboscis, that nose-like hand which Nature has given it in
compensation for its very short neck, for the benefit of its master,
accepting the presents which will be profitable to him. It always walks
cautiously, remembering that fatal fall into the hunter's pit which was
the beginning of its captivity. When requested to do so, it exhales its
breath, which is said to be a remedy for the headache.

"When it comes to water, it sucks up a vast quantity in its trunk, and
then at the word of command squirts it forth like a shower. If any one
have treated its demands with contempt, it pours forth such a stream of
dirty water over him that one would think that a river had entered his
house. For this beast has a wonderfully long memory, both of injury and
of kindness. Its eyes are small but move solemnly, so that there is a
sort of royal majesty in its appearance: and it despises scurrile jests,
while it always looks with pleasure on that which is honourable".

It must be admitted that if the official communications of modern
statesmen thus anxiously combined amusement with instruction, the dull
routine of "I have the honour to inform" and "I beg to remain your
obedient humble servant", would acquire a charm of which it is now
destitute.

I have translated two letters which show the ludicrous side of the
literary character of Cassiodorus. In justice to this honest, if
somewhat pedantic, servant of Theodoric, I will close this sketch of his
character with a state-paper of a better type, and one which
incidentally throws some light on the social condition of Italy under
the Goths.

"THEODORIC to the Illustrious Neudes. (Var., v., 29.)

"We were moved to sympathy by the long petition of Ocer but yet more by
beholding the old hero, bereft of the blessing of sight, inasmuch as the
calamities which we witness make more impression upon us than those of
which we only hear. He, poor man, living on in perpetual darkness, had
to borrow the sight of another to hasten to our presence in order that
he might feel the sweetness of our clemency, though he could not gaze
upon our countenance.

"He complains that Gudila and Oppas (probably two Gothic nobles or a
Gothic chief and his wife) have reduced him to a state of slavery, a
condition unknown to him or his fathers, since he once served in our
army as a free man. We marvel that such a man should be dragged into
bondage who (on account of his infirmity) ought to have been liberated
by a lawful owner. It is a new kind of ostentation to claim the services
of such an one, the sight of whom shocks you, and to call that man a
slave, to whom you ought rather to minister with divine compassion.

"He adds also that all claims of this nature have been already judged
invalid after careful examination by Count Pythias, a man celebrated for
the correctness of his judgments. But now overwhelmed by the weight of
his calamity, he cannot assert his freedom by his own right hand, which
in the strong man is the most effectual advocate of his claims. We,
however, whose peculiar property it is to administer justice
indifferently, whether between men of equal or unequal condition, do by
this present mandate decree, that if, in the judgment of the aforesaid
Pythias, Ocer have proved himself free-born, you shall at once remove
those who are harassing him with their claims, nor shall they dare any
longer to mock at the calamities of others: these people who once
convicted ought to have been covered with shame for their wicked
designs".

[Illustration:]




                              CHAPTER X.


                          THE ARIAN LEAGUE.

Political bearings of the Arianism of the German invaders of the
Empire--Vandals, Suevi, Visigoths, Burgundians--Uprise of the power of
Clovis--His conversion to Christianity--His wars with Gundobad, king of
the Burgundians--With Alaric II., king of the Visigoths--Downfall of the
monarchy of Toulouse--Usurpation of Gesalic--Theodoric governs Spain as
guardian of his grandson Amalaric.


[Illustration:]

The position of Theodoric in relation both to his own subjects and to
the Empire was seriously modified by one fact to which hitherto I have
only alluded casually, the fact that he, like the great majority of the
Teutonic invaders of the Empire, was an adherent of the Arian form of
Christianity. In order to estimate at its true value the bearing of
religion, or at least of religious profession, on politics, at the time
of the fall of the Roman State, we might well look at the condition of
another dominion, founded under the combined influence of martial
spirit and religious zeal, which is now going to pieces under our very
eyes, I mean the Empire of the Ottomans. In the lands which are still
under the sway of the Sultan, religion may not be a great spiritual
force, but it is at any rate a great political lever. When you have said
that a man is a Moslem or a Druse, a member of the Orthodox or of the
Catholic Church, an Armenian or a Protestant, you have almost always
said enough to define his political position. Without the need of
additional information you have already got the elements of his civic
equation, and can say whether he is a loyal subject of the Porte, or
whether he looks to Russia or Greece, to France, Austria, or England as
the sovereign of his future choice. In fact, as has been often pointed
out, in the East at this day "Religion is Nationality".

Very similar to this was the condition of the ancient world at the time
when the general movement of the Northern nations began. The battle with
heathenism was virtually over, Christianity being the unquestioned
conqueror; but the question, which of the many modifications of
Christianity devised by the subtle Hellenic and Oriental intellects
should be the victor, was a question still unsettled, and debated with
the keenest interest on all the shores of the Mediterranean. So keen
indeed was the interest that it sometimes seems almost to have blinded
the disputants to the fact that the Roman Empire, the greatest political
work that the world has ever seen, was falling in ruins around them.
When we want information about the march of armies and the fall of
States, the chroniclers to whom we turn for guidance, withholding that
which we seek, deluge us with trivial talk about the squabbles of monks
and bishops, about Timothy the Weasel and Peter the Fuller, and a host
of other self-seeking ecclesiastics, to whose names, to whose
characters, and to whose often violent deaths we are profoundly and
absolutely indifferent. But though a feeling of utter weariness comes
over the mind of most readers, while watching the theological sword-play
of the fourth and fifth centuries, the historical student cannot afford
to shut his eyes altogether to the battle of the creeds, which produced
results of such infinite importance to the crystallising process by
which Mediæval Europe was formed out of the Roman Empire.

As I have just said, Theodoric the Ostrogoth, like almost all the great
Teutonic swarm-leaders, like Alaric the Visigoth, like Gaiseric the
Vandal, like Gundobad the Burgundian, was an Arian. On the other hand,
the Emperors, Zeno, for instance, and Anastasius, and the great majority
of the population of Italy and of the provinces of the Empire, were
Catholic. What was the amount of theological divergence which was
conveyed by these terms Arian and Catholic, or to speak more judicially
(for the Arians averred that they were the true Catholics and that their
opponents were heretics) Arian and Athanasian? As this is not the place
for a disquisition on disputed points of theology, it is sufficient to
say that, while the Athanasian held for truth the whole of the Nicene
Creed, the Arian--at least that type of Arian with whom we are here
concerned--would, in that part which relates to the Son of God, leave
out the words "being of one substance with the Father", and would
substitute for them "being like unto the Father in such manner as the
Scriptures declare". He would also have refused to repeat the words
which assert the Godhead of the Holy Spirit. These were important
differences, but it will be seen at once that they were not so broad as
those which now generally separate "orthodox" from "heterodox"
theologians.

The reasons which led the barbarian invaders of the Empire to accept the
Arian form of Christianity are not yet fully disclosed to us. The cause
could not be an uncultured people's preference for a simple faith, for
the Arian champions were at least as subtle and technical in their
theology as the Athanasian, and often surpassed them in these qualities.
It is possible that some remembrances of the mythology handed down to
them by their fathers made them willing to accept a subordinate Christ,
a spiritualised "Balder the Beautiful", divine yet subject to death,
standing as it were upon the steps of his father's throne, rather than
the dogma, too highly spiritualised for their apprehension, of One God
in Three Persons. But probably the chief cause of the Arianism of the
German invaders was the fact that the Empire itself was to a great
extent Arian when they were in friendly relations with it, and were
accepting both religion and civilisation at its hands, in the middle
years of the fourth century.

The most powerful factor in this change, the man who more than all
others was responsible for the conversion of the Germanic races to
Christianity, in its Arian form, was the Gothic Bishop, Ulfilas
(311-381), whose construction of an Alphabet and translation of the
Scriptures into the language of his fellow-countrymen have secured for
him imperishable renown among all who are interested in the history of
human speech. Ulfilas, who has been well termed "The Apostle of the
Goths", seems to have embraced Christianity as a young man when he was
dwelling in Constantinople as a hostage (thus in some measure
anticipating the part which one hundred and thirty years later was to be
played by Theodoric), and having been ordained first Lector (Reader) and
afterwards (341) Bishop of Gothia, he spent the remaining forty years of
his life in missionary journeys among his countrymen in Dacia, in
collecting those of his converts who fled from the persecution of their
still heathen rulers, and settling them as colonists in Mœsia, and, most
important of all, in his great work of the translation of the Bible into
Gothic. Of this work, as is well known, some precious fragments still
remain; most precious of all, the glorious Silver Manuscript of the
Gospels _(Codex Argenteus),_ which is supposed to have been written in
the sixth century, and which, after many wanderings and an eventful
history, rests now in a Scandinavian land, in the Library of the
University of Upsala, It is well worth while to make a pilgrimage to
that friendly and hospitable Swedish city, if for no other purpose than
to see the letters (traced in silver on parchment of rich purple dye)
in which the skilful amanuensis laboriously transcribed the sayings of
Christ rendered by Bishop Ulfilas into the language of Alaric. For that
_Codex Argenteus_ is oldest of all extant monuments of Teutonic speech,
the first fruit of that mighty tree which now spreads its branches over
half the civilised world.

With the theological bearings of the Arian controversy we have no
present concern; but it is impossible not to notice the unfortunate
political results of the difference of creed between the German invaders
and the great majority of the inhabitants of the Empire. The cultivators
of the soil and the dwellers in the cities had suffered much from the
misgovernment of their rulers during the last two centuries of Imperial
sway; they could, to some extent, appreciate the nobler moral qualities
of the barbarian settlers--their manliness, their truthfulness, their
higher standard of chastity; nor is it idle to suppose that if there had
been perfect harmony of religious faith between the new-comers and the
old inhabitants they might soon have settled down into vigorous and
well-ordered communities, such as Theodoric and Cassiodorus longed to
behold, combining the Teutonic strength with the Roman reverence for
law. Religious discord made it impossible to realise this ideal The
orthodox clergy loathed and dreaded the invaders "infected", as they
said, "with the Arian pravity". The barbarian kings, unaccustomed to
have their will opposed by men who never wielded a broadsword, were
masterful and high-handed in their demand for absolute obedience, even
when their commands related to the things of God rather than to the
things of Cæsar; and the Arian bishops and priests who stood beside
their thrones, and who had sometimes long arrears of vengeance for past
insult or oppression to exact, often wrought up the monarch's mind to a
perfect frenzy of fanatical rage, and goaded him to cruel deeds which
made reconciliation between the warring creeds hopelessly impossible. In
Africa, the Vandal kings set on foot a persecution of their Catholic
subjects which rivalled, nay exceeded, the horrors of the persecution
under Diocletian. Churches were destroyed, bishops banished, and their
flocks forbidden to elect their successors: nay, sometimes, in the
fierce quest after hidden treasure, eminent ecclesiastics were stretched
on the rack, their mouths were filled with noisome dirt, or cords were
twisted round their foreheads or their shins. In Gaul, under the
Visigothic King Euric, the persecution was less savage, but it was
stubborn and severe. Here, too, the congregations were forbidden to
elect successors to their exiled bishops; the paths to the churches were
stopped up with thorns and briers; cattle grazed on the grass-grown
altar steps, and the rain came through the shattered roofs into the
dismantled basilicas.

Thus all round the shores of the Mediterranean there was strife and
bitter heart-burning between the Roman provincial and his Teutonic
"guest", not so much because one was or called himself a Roman, while
the other called himself Goth, Burgundian, or Vandal, but because one
was Athanasian and the other Arian. With this strife of creeds
Theodoric, for the greater part of his reign, refused to concern
himself. He remained an Arian, as his fathers had been before him, but
he protected the Catholic Church in the privileges which she had
acquired, and he refused to exert his royal authority to either threaten
or allure men into adopting his creed. So evenly for many years did he
hold the balance between the rival faiths, that it was reported of him
that he put to death a Catholic priest who apostatised to Arianism in
order to attain the royal favour; and though this story does not perhaps
rest on sufficient authority, there can be no doubt that the general
testimony of the marvelling Catholic subjects of Theodoric would have
coincided with that already quoted (See page 128.) from the Bishop of
Ravenna that "he attempted nothing against the Catholic faith".

Still, though determined not to govern in the interests of a sect, it
was impossible that Theodoric's political relations should not be, to a
certain extent, modified by his religious affinities. Let us glance at
the position of the chief States with which a ruler of Italy at the
close of the fifth century necessarily came in contact.

First of all we have _the Empire,_ practically confined at this time to
"the Balkan peninsula" south of the Danube, Asia Minor, Syria, and
Egypt, and presided over by the elderly, politic, but unpopular
Anastasius. This State is Catholic, though, as we shall hereafter see,
not in hearty alliance with the Church of Rome.

Westward from the Empire, along the southern shore of the
Mediterranean, stretches the great kingdom of the _Vandals,_ with
Carthage for its capital. They have a powerful navy, but their kings,
Gunthamund (484-496) and Thrasamund (496-523), do not seem to be
disposed to renew the buccaneering expeditions of their grandfather, the
great Vandal Gaiseric. They are decided Arians, and keep up a stern,
steady pressure on their Catholic subjects, who are spared, however, the
ruthless brutalities practised upon them by the earlier Vandal kings.
The relations of the Vandals with the Ostrogothic kingdom seem to have
been of a friendly character during almost the whole reign of Theodoric.
Thrasamund, the fourth king who reigned at Carthage, married Amalafrida,
Theodoric's sister, who brought with her, as dowry, possession of the
strong fortress of Lilybæum _(Marsala),_ in the west of Sicily, and who
was accompanied to her new home by a brilliant train of one thousand
Gothic nobles with five thousand mounted retainers.

In the north and west of Spain dwell the nation of the _Suevi,_ Teutonic
and Arian, but practically out of the sphere of European politics, and
who, half a century after the death of Theodoric, will be absorbed by
their Visigothic neighbours.

This latter state, the kingdom of the _Visigoths,_ is apparently, at the
end of the fifth century, by far the most powerful of the new barbarian
monarchies. All Spain, except its north-western corner, and something
like half of Gaul--namely, that region which is contained between the
Pyrenees and the Loire, owns the sway of the young king, whose capital
city is Toulouse, and who, though a stranger in blood, bears the name
of the great Visigoth who first battered a breach in the walls of Rome,
the mighty Alaric. This Alaric II. (485-507), the son of Euric, who had
been the most powerful sovereign of his dynasty, inherited neither his
father's force of character (485-507) nor the bitterness of his
Arianism. The persecution of the Catholics was suspended, or ceased
altogether, and we may picture to ourselves the congregations again
wending their way by unblockaded paths to the house of prayer, the
churches once more roofed in and again made gorgeous by the stately
ceremonial of the Catholic rite. In other ways, too, Alaric showed
himself anxious to conciliate the favour of his Roman subjects. He
ordered an abstract of the Imperial Code to be prepared, and this
abstract, under the name of the _Breviarium Alaricianum_[92] is to this
day one of our most valuable sources of information as to Roman Law. He
is also said to have directed the construction of the canal, which still
bears his name _(Canal d'Alaric),_ and which, connecting the Adour with
the Aisne, assists the irrigation of the meadows of Gascony. But all
these attempts to close the feud between the king and his orthodox
subjects were vain. When the day of trial came, it was seen, as it had
long been suspected, that the sympathies and the powerful influence of
the bishops and clergy were thrown entirely on the side of the Catholic
invader.

[Footnote 92: Sometimes called the _Breviarium Aniani,_ from the name of
the Registrar whose signature attested each copy of the _Breviarium._]

Between the Visigothic and Ostrogothic courts there was firm friendship
and alliance, the remembrance of their common origin and of many perils
and hardships shared together on the shores of the Euxine and in the
passes of the Balkans being fortified by the knowledge of the dangers to
which their common profession of Arianism exposed them amidst the
Catholic population of the Empire. The alliance, which had served
Theodoric in good stead when the Visigoths helped him in his struggle
with Odovacar, was yet further strengthened by kinship, the young king
of Toulouse having received in marriage a princess from Ravenna, whose
name is variously given as Arevagni or Ostrogotho.

A matrimonial alliance also connected Theodoric with the king of the
_Burgundians_. These invaders, who were destined so strangely to
disappear out of history themselves, while giving their name to such
wide and rich regions of mediæval Europe, occupied at this time the
valleys of the Saone and the Rhone, as well as the country which we now
call Switzerland. Their king, Gundobad, a man somewhat older than
Theodoric, had once interfered zealously in the politics of Italy,
making and unmaking Emperors and striking for Odovacar against his
Ostrogothic rival. Now, however, his whole energies were directed to
extending his dominions in Gaul, and to securing his somewhat precarious
throne from the machinations of the Catholic bishops, his subjects. For
he, too, was by profession an Arian, though of a tolerant type, and
though he sometimes seemed on the point of crossing the abyss and
declaring himself a convert to the Nicene faith. Theudegotho, sister of
Arevagni, was given by her father, Theodoric in marriage to Sigismund,
the son and heir of Gundobad.

The event which intensified the fears of all these Arian kings, and
which left to each one little more than the hope that he might be the
last to be devoured, was the conversion to Catholicism of Clovis,[93]
the heathen king of the _Franks_, that fortunate barbarian who, by a
well-timed baptism, won for his tribe of rude warriors the possession of
the fairest land in Europe and the glory of giving birth to one of the
foremost nations in the world.

[Footnote 93: I call the Frankish king by the name by which he is best
known in history, though no doubt the more correct form is either
Hlodwig or Chlodovech. It is of course the same name with Ludovicus or
Louis I do not know whether the barbarian sound of Hlodwig offended the
delicate taste of Cassiodorus, but in the "Various Letters" he addresses
the king of the Franks as Ludum. It seems probable that there was some
harsh guttural before the L which Gregory of Tours endeavoured to
represent by Ch (Chlodovech), while Cassiodorus, receiving the name from
the Frankish barbarians, thought it safer to leave it unrepresented
(Ludum). In any case his _n_ must have been due to some defective
understanding of the final sound.]

As we are here come to one of the common-places of history, I need but
very briefly remind the reader of the chief stages in the upward course
of the young Frankish king. Born in 466, he succeeded his father,
Childeric, as one of the kings of the Salian Franks in 481. The lands of
the Salians occupied but the extreme northern corner of modern France,
and a portion of Flanders, and even here Clovis was but one of many
kinglets allied by blood but frequently engaged in petty and inglorious
wars one with another.

For five years the young Salian chieftain lived in peace with his
neighbours. In the twentieth year of his age (486) he sprang with one
bound into fame and dominion by attacking and overcoming the Roman
Syagrius, who with ill-defined prerogatives, and bearing the title not
of Emperor or of Prefect, but of King, had succeeded amidst the wreck of
the Western Empire in preserving some of the fairest districts of the
north of Gaul from barbarian domination. With the help of some of his
brother chiefs, Clovis overthrew this "King of Soissons". Syagrius took
refuge at the court of Toulouse, and the Frankish king now felt himself
strong enough to send to the young Alaric, who had ascended the throne
only a year before, a peremptory message, insisting, under the penalty
of a declaration of war, on the surrender of the Roman fugitive. The
Visigoth was mean-spirited enough to purchase peace by delivering up his
guest, bound in fetters, to the ambassadors of Clovis, who shortly after
ordered him to be privily done to death. From that time, we may well
believe, Clovis felt confident that he should one day vanquish Alaric.

About seven years after this event (493) came his memorable marriage
with Clotilda,[94] a Burgundian princess, who, unlike her Arian uncle,
Gundobad, was enthusiastically devoted to the Catholic faith, and who
ceased not by private conversations and by inducing him to listen to the
sermons of the eloquent Bishop Remigius, to endeavour to win her husband
from the religion of his heathen forefathers to the creed of Rome and
of the Empire. Clovis, however, for some years wavered. Sprung himself,
according to the traditions of his people, from the sea-god Meroveus, he
was not in haste to renounce this fabulous glory, nor to acknowledge as
Lord, One who had been reared in a carpenter's shop at Nazareth. He
allowed Clotilda to have her eldest son baptised, but when the child
soon after died, he took that as a sign of the power and vengeance of
the old gods. A second son was born, was baptised, fell sick. Had that
child died, Clovis would probably have remained an obstinate heathen,
but the little one recovered, given back, as was believed, to the
earnest prayers of his mother.

[Footnote 94: More accurately Chrotchildis.]

It was perhaps during these years of indecision as to his future
religious profession, that Clovis consented to a matrimonial alliance
between his house and that of the Arian Theodoric. The great Ostrogoth
married, probably about the year 495, the sister of Clovis, Augofleda,
who, as we may reasonably conjecture, renounced the worship of the gods
of her people, and was baptised by an Arian bishop on becoming "Queen of
the Goths and Romans". Unfortunately the meagre annals of the time give
us no hint of the character or history of the princess who was thus
transferred from the fens of Flanders to the marshes of Ravenna. Every
indication shows that she came from a far lower level of civilisation
than that which her husband's people occupied. Did she soon learn to
conform herself to the stately ceremonial which Ravenna borrowed from
Constantinople? Did she too speak of _civilitas_ and the necessity of
obeying the Roman laws, and did she share the "glorious colloquies"
which her husband held with the exuberant Cassiodorus? When war came
between the Ostrogoth and the Frank, did she openly show her sympathy
with her brother Clovis, or did she "forget her people and her father's
house" and cleave with all her soul to the fortunes of Theodoric? As to
all these interesting questions the "Various Letters", with all their
diffuseness, give us no more information than the most jejune of the
annalists. The only fact upon which we might found a conjecture is the
love of literature and of Roman civilisation displayed by her daughter,
Amalasuentha, which inclines us to guess that the mother may have thrown
off her Frankish wildness when she came into the softening atmosphere of
Italy.

We return to the event so memorable in the history of the world, Clovis'
conversion to Christianity. In the year 486 he went forth to fight his
barbarian neighbours in the south-east, the Alamanni, The battle was a
stubborn and a bloody one, as well it might be when two such
thunder-clouds met, the savage Frank and the savage Alaman. Already the
Frankish host seemed wavering, when Clovis, lifting his eyes to heaven
and shedding tears in the agony of his soul, said: "O Jesus Christ! whom
Clotilda declares to be the son of the living God, who art said to give
help to the weary, and victory to them that trust in thee, I humbly pray
for thy glorious aid, and promise that if thou wilt indulge me with the
victory over these enemies, I will believe in thee and be baptised in
thy name. For I have called on my own gods and have found that they are
of no power and do not help those who call upon them". Scarcely had he
spoken the words when the tide of battle turned. The Franks recovered
from their panic, the Alamanni turned to flight. Their king was slain,
and his people submitted to Clovis, who, returning, told his queen how
he had called upon her God in the day of battle and been delivered.

Then followed, after a short consultation with the leading men of his
kingdom, which made the change of faith in some degree a national act,
the celebrated scene in the cathedral of Rheims, where the king, having
confessed his faith in the Holy Trinity, was baptised in the name of the
Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, the poetical bishop uttering the
well-known words: "Bow down thy head in lowliness, O Sicambrian; adore
what thou hast burned and burn what thou hast adored". The streets of
the city were hung with bright banners, white curtains adorned the
churches, and clouds of sweet incense filled all the great basilica in
which "the new Constantine" stooped to the baptismal water. He entered
the cathedral a mere "Sicambrian" chieftain, the descendant of the
sea-god: he emerged from it amid the acclamations of the joyous
provincials, "the eldest son of the Church".

The result of this ceremony was to change the political relations of
every state in Gaul. Though the Franks were among the roughest and most
uncivilised of the tribes that had poured westwards across the Rhine, as
Catholics they were now sure of a welcome from the Catholic clergy of
every city, and where the clergy led, the "Roman" provincials, or in
other words the Latin-speaking laity, generally followed. Immediately
after his baptism Clovis received a letter of enthusiastic welcome Into
the true fold, written by Avitus, Bishop of Vienne, the most eminent
ecclesiastic of the Burgundian kingdom. "I regret", says Avitus, "that I
could not be present in the flesh at that most glorious solemnity. But
as your most sublime Humility had sent me a messenger to inform me of
your intention, when night fell I retired to rest already secure of your
conversion. How often my friends and I went over the scene in our
imaginations! We saw the band of holy prelates vying with one another in
the ambition of lowly service, each one wishing to comfort the royal
limbs with the water of life. We saw that head, so terrible to the
nations, bowed low before the servants of God; the hair which had grown
long under the helmet now crowned with the diadem of the holy anointing;
the coat of mail laid aside and the white limbs wrapped in linen robes
as white and spotless as themselves.

"One thing only have I to ask of you, that you will spread the light
which you have yourself received to the nations around you. Scatter the
seeds of faith from out of the good treasure of your heart, and be not
ashamed, by embassies directed to this very end, to strengthen in other
States the cause of that God who has so greatly exalted your fortunes.
Shine on, for ever, upon those who are present, by lustre of your
diadem, upon those who are absent, by the glory of your name. We are
touched by your happiness; as often as you fight in those (heretical)
lands, _we_ conquer".

The use of language like this, showing such earnest devotion to the
cause of Clovis in the subject of a rival monarch, well illustrates the
tendency of the Frankish king's conversion to loosen the bonds of
loyalty in the neighbouring States, and to facilitate the spread of his
dominion over the whole of Gaul. In fact, the Frankish kingdom, having
become Catholic, was like the magnetic mountain of Oriental fable, which
drew to itself all the iron nails of the ships which approached it, and
so caused them to sink in hopeless dissolution. Seeing this obvious
result of the conversion of the Frank, some historians, especially in
the last century, were disposed to look upon that conversion as a mere
hypocritical pretence. Later critics[95] have shown that this is not an
accurate account of the matter. Doubtless the motives which induced
Clovis to accept baptism and to profess faith in the Crucified One were
of the meanest, poorest, and most unspiritual kind. Few men have ever
been further from that which Christ called "the Kingdom of Heaven" than
this grasping and brutal Frankish chief, to whom robbery, falsehood,
murder were, after his baptism, as much as before it (perhaps even more
than before it), the ordinary steps in the ladder of his elevation. But
the rough barbaric soul had in its dim fashion a faith that the God of
the Christians was the mightiest God, and that it would go well with
those who submitted to him. In his rude style he made imaginary bargains
with the Most High: "so much reverence to 'Clotilda's God,' so many
offerings at the shrine of St. Martin, so much land to the church of St.
Genovefa, on condition that I shall beat down my enemies before me and
extend my dominions from the Seine to the Pyrenees". This is the kind of
calculation which the missionaries in our own day are only too well
accustomed to hear from the lips of barbarous potentates like those of
Uganda and Fiji. A conversion thus effected brings no honour to any
church, and the utter selfishness and even profanity of the transaction
disgusts the devout souls of every communion. Still the conversion of
Clovis was not in its essence and origin a hypocritical scheme for
obtaining the support of the Catholic clergy in Gaul, how clearly so
ever the new convert may have soon perceived that from that support he
would "suck no small advantage".

[Footnote 95: Especially Dahn ("Urgeschichte der germanischen Völker",
iii., 61).]

The first of his Arian neighbours whom Clovis struck at was the
Burgundian, Gundobad. In the year 500 he beseiged Dijon with a large
army. Gundobad called on his brother Godegisel, who reigned at Geneva,
for help, but that brother was secretly in league with Clovis, and at a
critical moment joined the invaders, who were for a time completely
successful. Gundobad was driven into exile and Godegisel accepting the
position of a tributary ally of his powerful Frankish friend, ruled over
the whole Burgundian kingdom. His rule however seems not to have been
heartily accepted by the Burgundian people. The exiled Gundobad
returned with a few followers, who daily increased in number; he found
himself strong enough to besiege Godegisel in Vienne; he at length
entered the city through the blow-hole of an aqueduct, slew his brother
with his own hand, and put his chief adherents to death "with exquisite
torments". The Frankish troops who garrisoned Vienne were taken
prisoners, but honourably treated and sent to Toulouse to be guarded by
Alaric the Visigoth, who had probably assisted the enterprise of
Gundobad.

The inactivity of Clovis during this counter-revolution in Burgundy is
not easily explained. Either there was some great explosion of
Burgundian national feeling against the Franks, which for the time made
further interference dangerous, or Gundobad, having added his brother's
dominions to his own, was now too strong for Clovis to meddle with, or,
which seems on the whole the most probable supposition, Gundobad
himself, secretly inclining towards the Catholic cause, had made peace
with Clovis through the mediation of the clergy, and came back to Vienne
to rule thenceforward as a dependent ally, though not an avowed
tributary, of Clovis and the Franks. We shall soon have occasion to
observe that in the crisis of its fortunes the confederacy of Arian
states could not count on the co-operation of Gundobad.

To form such a confederacy and to league together all the older Arian
monarchies against this one aspiring Catholic state, which threatened to
absorb them all, was now the main purpose of Theodoric. He seems,
however, to have remained meanwhile on terms of courtesy and apparent
harmony with his powerful brother-in-law.

He congratulated him on a second victorious campaign against the
Alamanni (about 503 or 504), and he took some trouble to comply with a
request, which Clovis had made to him, to find out a skilful harper who
might be sent to his court. The letter[96] which relates to this
transaction is a curious specimen of Cassiodorus' style. It is addressed
to the young philosopher Boëthius, a man whose varied accomplishments
adorned the middle period of the reign of Theodoric, and whose tragical
death was to bring sadness over its close. To this man, whose knowledge
of the musical art was pre-eminent in his generation, Cassiodorus
addresses one of the longest letters in his collection (it would occupy
about six pages of an ordinary octavo), only one or two sentences of
which relate to the business in hand. The letter begins: "Since the king
of the Franks, attracted by the fame of our banquets, has with earnest
prayers besought us to send him a harper (_citharœdus_), our only hope
of executing his commission lies in you, whom we know to be accomplished
in musical learning. For it will be easy for you to choose a
well-skilled man, having yourself been able to attain to that high and
abstruse study". Then follow a string of reflections on the soothing
power of music, a description of the five "modes" [97] (Dorian,
Phrygian, Aeolian, Ionian, and Lydian) and of the diapason; instances of
the power of music drawn from the Scriptures and from heathen mythology,
a discussion on the harmony of the spheres, and a doubt whether the
enjoyment of this "astral music" be rightly placed among the delights of
heaven. At length the marvellous state-paper draws to a close, "But
since we have made this pleasing digression[98] (because it is always
agreeable to talk about learning with learned men) let your Wisdom
choose out for us the best harper of the day, for the purpose that we
have mentioned. Herein will you accomplish a task somewhat like that of
Orpheus, when he with sweet sounds tamed the fierce hearts of savage
creatures. The thanks which we owe you will be expressed by liberal
compensation, for you obey our rule, and to the utmost of your power
render it illustrious by your attainments".

[Footnote 96: Var., ii., 40.]

[Footnote 97: Toni]

[Footnote 98: "Voluptuosa digressio".]

Evidently the court of Theodoric was regarded as a centre of light and
civilisation by his Teutonic neighbours, the lords of the new kingdoms
to the north of him. King Gundobad desired to become the possessor of a
_clepsydra_ or water-clock, such as had long been used in Athens and
Rome, to regulate the time allotted to the orators in public debates. He
also wished to obtain an accurately graduated sun-dial. For both he made
request to Theodoric, and again[99] the universal genius Boëthius was
applied to, Cassiodorus writes him, in his master's name, a letter which
gives us some interesting information as to the past career of Boëthius,
and then proceeds to give a specification of the required machines, in
language so magnificent as to be, at any rate to modern mechanicians,
hopelessly unintelligible. Then a shorter letter, to accompany the clock
and dial, is written to King Gundobad. This letter, which is written in
a slightly condescending tone, says that the tie of affinity between the
two kings makes it right that Gundobad should receive benefits from
Theodoric: "Let Burgundy under your sway learn to examine the most
curious objects, and to praise the inventions of the ancients. Through
you she is laying aside her old barbarian tastes, and while she admires
the prudence of her King she rightly desires the works of wise men of
old. Let her mark out the different intervals of the day by her actions:
let her in the most fitting manner assign the occupation of each hour.
This is to lead the true human life, as distinguished from that of the
brutes, who know the flight of time only by the cravings of their
appetites".

[Footnote 99: Strictly speaking not "again" but "previously", for the
letter about the water-clock precedes the letter about the harper.]

A time, however, was approaching when this pleasant interchange of
courtesies between the three sovereigns, Ostrogothic, Frankish, and
Burgundian, was to be succeeded by the din of wan Alaric the Visigoth,
alarmed at the victorious progress of the Frankish king, sent a message
to this effect: "If my brother is willing, let him consider my proposal
that, by the favour of God, we should have an interview with one
another". Clovis accepted the offer, and the two kings met on an island
in the Loire near Amboise.[100] But either no alliance could be formed,
owing to religious differences, or the treaty so made was too weak for
the strain which it had to bear, and it became manifest before long that
war would soon break out between "Francia" and "Gothia".

[Footnote 100: We have no date given us for this meeting, and the whole
sequence of events between the Burgundian and Visigothic wars of Clovis
(500-507) can only be stated conjecturally.]

Theodoric exerted himself strenuously to prevent the impending struggle,
which, as he too surely foresaw, would bring only disaster to his
Visigothic allies. He caused his eloquent secretary to write letters to
Clovis, to Alaric, to Gundobad, to the neighbours of the Franks on their
eastern border, the kings of the Heruli, the Warni, and the Thuringians.
To Clovis he dilated on the horrors which war brings upon the
inhabitants of the warring lands, who have a right to expect that the
kinship of their lords will keep them at peace. A few paltry words were
no sufficient cause of war between two such monarchs, and it was the act
of a passionate and hot-headed man to be mobilising his troops while he
was sending his first embassy. To Alaric he sent an earnest warning
against engaging in war with Clovis: "You are surrounded by an
innumerable multitude of subjects, and you are proud of the remembrance
of the defeat of Attila, but war is a terribly dangerous game, and you
know not how the long peace may have softened the warlike fibre of your
people". He besought Gundobad to join with him in preserving peace
between the combatants, to each of whom he had offered his arbitration.
"It behoves us old, men to moderate the wrath of the royal youths, who
should reverence our age, though they are still in the flower of their
hot youth".[101] The kings of the barbarians were reminded of the
friendship which Alaric's father, Euric, had shown them in old days, and
invited to join in a "League of Peace", in order to check the lawless
aggressions of Clovis, which threatened danger to all.

[Footnote 101: There is some difficulty in understanding this remark
about the relative ages of the sovereigns If we put the date of the
letters at 506 (and a later date is hardly possible, nor one more than
two or three years earlier), though Gundobad might well be over sixty,
Theodoric himself could be only fifty-two, while on the other hand the
"regii juvenes", Clovis and Alaric, were about forty. But _senex_ and
_juvenis_ are expressions often used with no great exactness; and I
conjecture that the cares and struggles of Theodoric's early manhood had
made him an old man before his time.]

The diplomatic action of Theodoric was powerless to avert the war;
possibly even it may have stimulated Clovis to strike rapidly before a
hostile coalition could be formed against him.

At an assembly of his nation (perhaps the "Camp of March") in the early
part of 507, he impetuously declared: "I take it grievously amiss that
these Arians should hold so large a part of Gaul. Let us go and overcome
them with God's help, and bring the land into subjection to us". The
saying pleased the whole multitude, and the collected army inarched
southward to the Loire. On their way they passed through the territory
owned by the monastery of St. Martin of Tours, the greatest saint of
Gaul. Here the king commanded them to abstain religiously from all
depredations, taking only grass for their horses, and water from the
streams. One of the soldiers, finding a quantity of hay in the
possession of a peasant, took it from him, arguing that hay was grass,
and so came within the permitted exception. He was, however, at once cut
down with a sword, the king exclaiming. "What hope shall we have of
victory if we offend the blessed Martin?" Having first prayed for a
sign, Clovis sent his messengers with gifts to the great basilica of
Tours, and behold! when these messengers set foot in the sacred
building, the choristers were singing an antiphon, taken from the 18th
Psalm: "Thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle, thou hast
subdued under me those that rose up against me".

Meanwhile, Alaric, taken at unawares, short of men and short of money,
was endeavouring to remedy the latter deficiency by a depreciation of
the currency. To swell his slender battalions he evidently looked to his
father-in-law, Theodoric, whose peace-making letter had ended with these
words: "We look upon your enemy as the common enemy of all. Whoever
strives against you will rightly have to deal with me, as a foe". Yet
notwithstanding this assurance, no Ostrogothic troops came at this time
to the help of the Visigoths. In the great dearth of historical
material, our account of these transactions has to be made up from
scattered and fragmentary notices, which do not enable us to explain
this strange inaction of so true-hearted an ally. It is not imputed to
him as a fault by any contemporary authority, and it seems reasonable to
suppose that not the will, but the power, to help his menaced son-in-law
was wanting. One alarming change in the situation had revealed itself
since Theodoric ordered his secretary to write the letters recommending
an anti-Frankish confederacy of kings. Gundobad the Burgundian was now
the declared ally of Clovis, and promised himself a share of the spoil.
So powerful an enemy on the flank, threatening the communications of the
two Gothic states, may very probably have been the reason why no timely
succour was sent from Ravenna to Toulouse.

Clovis and his Frankish host, hungering for the spoil, pressed forwards,
and succeeded, apparently without opposition, in crossing the broad
river Loire. Alaric had taken up a strong position at the Campus
Vogladensis (_Vouillé: dep. Vienne_), about ten miles from Poitiers.
Here he wished to remain on the defensive till the expected succours
from Theodoric could arrive, but his soldiers, confident in their power
to beat the Franks unassisted, began to revile their king's over-caution
and his father-in-law's delay, and forced Alaric to fight.[102] The
Goths began hurling their missile weapons, but the daring Franks rushed
in upon them and commenced a hand-to-hand encounter, in which they were
completely victorious. The Goths turned to flee, and Clovis, riding up
to where Alaric was fighting, slew him with his own hand. He himself had
immediately afterwards a narrow escape from two of the enemy, who,
coming suddenly upon him, thrust their long spears at him, one on each
side. The strength of his coat of mail, however, and the speed of his
horse saved him from a disaster which might possibly even then have
turned the tide of victory.

[Footnote 102: This statement as to the battle being forced on, contrary
to the wishes of Alaric, rests only on the authority of Procopius, not a
contemporary author, and not very well informed as to the events of this
campaign.]

The result of this battle was the complete overthrow of the Visigothic
kingdom of Toulouse. In a certain sense it survived, and for two
centuries played a great part in Europe as the Spanish kingdom of
Toledo, but, as competitors for dominion in Gaul, the Visigoths
henceforward disappear from history. There seems to have been a certain
want of toughness in the Visigothic fibre, a tendency to rashness
combined with a tendency to panic, which made it possible for their
enemies to achieve a complete triumph over them in a single battle.
(376) Athanaric staked his all on one battle with the Huns, and lost, by
the rivers of Bessarabia. (507) Alaric II., as we have seen, staked his
all on one battle with the Franks, and lost, on the Campus Vogladensis.
(701) Two centuries later Roderic staked his all upon one battle with
the Moors, and lost, at Xeres de la Frontera.

All through the year 507 the allied forces of Franks and Burgundians
seem to have poured over the south-west and south of Gaul, annexing
Angoulème, Saintonge, Auvergne, and Gascony to the dominions of Clovis,
and Provence to the dominions of Gundobad. Only the strong city of
Aries, and perhaps the fortress of Carcassonne (that most interesting
relic of the early Middle Ages, which still shows the handiwork of
Visigothic kings in its walls), still held out for the son of Alaric.

In 508 the long delayed forces of Theodoric appeared upon the scene
under his brave general, Tulum, and dealt some severe blows at the
allied Frankish and Burgundian armies. In 509 another army, under Duke
Mammo, crossed the Cottian Alps near Briancon, laid waste part of
Dauphiné, and probably compelled a large detachment of the Burgundian
army to return for the defence of their homes. And lastly, in 510,
Theodoric's general, Ibbas, inflicted a crushing defeat on the allied
armies, leaving, it is said, thirty thousand Franks dead upon the field.
The number is probably much exaggerated (as these historical bulletins
are apt to be), but there can be no doubt that a great and important
victory was won by the troops of Theodoric. The immediate result of this
victory was the raising of the siege of Aries, whose valiant defenders
had held out against storm and blockade, famine and treachery within,
Franks and Burgundians without, for the space of two years and a half.
Ultimately, and perhaps before many months had passed, the victory of
Ibbas led to a cessation of hostilities, if not to a formal treaty of
peace, between the three powers which disputed the possession of Gaul.
The terms practically arranged were these. Clovis remained in possession
of far the largest part of Alaric's dominions, Aquitaine nearly up to
the roots of the Pyrenees, and so much of Languedoc (including Toulouse,
the late capital of the Visigoths) as lay west of the mountains of the
Cevennes. Theodoric obtained the rest of Languedoc and Provence, the
first province being deemed to be a part of the Visigothic, the second
of the Ostrogothic, dominions, Gundobad obtained nothing, but lost some
towns on his southern frontier--a fitting reward for his tortuous and
shifty policy.

In the meantime something like civil war had been waged on the other
side of the Pyrenees for the Spanish portion of the Visigothic
inheritance. Alaric, slain on the field of Vouillé, had left two sons,
one Amalaric, his legitimate heir and the grandson of Theodoric, but
still a child, the other a young man, but of illegitimate birth, named
Gesalic. This latter was, on the death of his father, proclaimed king by
some fraction of the Visigothic people. Had Gesalic shown courage and
skill in winning back the lost inheritance of his father, Theodoric,
whose own descent was not legitimate according to strict church law,
would not, perhaps, have interfered with his claim to the succession.
But the young man was as weak and cowardly as his birth was base, and
the strenuous efforts of Theodoric, seconded probably by many of the
Visigoths who had first acclaimed him as king, were directed to getting
rid of this futile pretender. Gesalic, defeated by Gundobad at Narbonne
(which, for a time, became the possession of the Burgundians), fled over
the Pyrenees to Barcelona, and from thence across the sea to Carthage.
Thrasamund, king of the Vandals, aided him with money and promised him
support, being probably deceived by the glozing tongue of Gesalic, and
looking upon him simply as a brave young Visigoth battling for his
rightful inheritance with the Franks. A correspondence followed between
Ravenna and Carthage, in which Theodoric bitterly complained of the
protection given by his brother-in-law to an intriguer and a rebel; and,
on the receipt of Theodoric's letter, Thrasamund at once disclaimed all
further intention of helping the pretender and sent rich presents to his
offended kinsman, which Theodoric graciously returned. Gesalic again
appeared in Barcelona, still doubtless wearing the insignia of kingship,
but was defeated by the same Duke Ibbas who had raised the siege of
Aries, and, fleeing into Gaul, probably in order to claim the protection
of the enemy of his house, King Gundobad, he was overtaken by the
soldiers of Theodoric near the river Durance, and was put to death by
his captors. Thus there remained but one undisputed heir to what was
left of the great Visigothic kingdom, the little child Amalaric,
Theodoric's grandson. He was brought up in Spain, but, apparently with
the full consent of the Visigothic people, his grandsire assumed the
reins of government, ruling in his own name but with a tacit
understanding that Amalaric and no other should succeed him.

(510-525) There was thus for fifteen years a combination of states which
Europe has not witnessed before or since, though Charles V. and some of
his descendants were not far from achieving it. All of Italy and all of
Spain (except the north-west corner, which was held by the Suevi) obeyed
the rule of Theodoric, and the fair regions of Provence and
Languedoc,[103] acknowledging the same master, were the ligament that
united them. Of the character of the government of Theodoric in Spain,
history tells us scarcely anything; but there is reason to think that it
was as wise and beneficent as his government of Italy, its chief fault
being probably the undue share of power which was grasped by the
Ostrogothic minister Theudis, whom Theodoric had appointed as guardian
to his grandson, and who, having married a wealthy Spanish lady, assumed
a semi-royal state, and became at last so mighty that Theodoric himself
did not dare to insist upon the recall which he had veiled under the
courteous semblance of an invitation to his palace at Ravenna.

[Footnote 103: East of the Cevennes.]

Thus then the policy of Theodoric towards his kinsmen and
co-religionists in Gaul had failed, but it had not been a hopeless
failure. He had missed, probably through no fault of his own, through
the rashness of Alaric and the treachery of Gundobad, the right moment
for saving the kingdom of Toulouse from shipwreck, but he had vindicated
in adversity the honour of the Gothic name, and he had succeeded in
saving a considerable part of the cargo which the stately vessel had
carried.

[Illustration: COIN OF THE GOTHIC KINGDOM IN ITALY.]

[Illustration: Graphic]




                             CHAPTER XI.


                             ANASTASIUS.

Anastasius, the Eastern Emperor--His character--His disputes with his
subjects--Theodoric and the king of the Gepidse--War of Sinnium and its
consequences--Raid on the coast of Italy--Reconciliation between the
courts of Ravenna and Constantinople--Anastasius confers on Clovis the
title of Consul--Clovis removes many of his rivals--Death of
Clovis--Death of Anastasius.


In order to complete our survey of the foreign policy of the great
Ostrogoth, we must now consider the relations which existed between him
and the majestic personage who, though he had probably never set foot in
Italy, was yet always known in the common speech of men as "The Roman
Emperor". It has been already said that Zeno, the sovereign who bore
this title when Theodoric started for Italy, died before his final
victory, and that it was his successor, Anastasius, with whom the
tedious negotiations were conducted which ended (497) in a recognition,
perhaps a somewhat grudging recognition, by the Emperor of the right of
the Ostrogothic king to rule in Italy.

Anastasius, who was Theodoric's contemporary during twenty-five years of
his reign, was already past sixty when the widowed Empress Ariadne chose
him for her husband and her Emperor, and he had attained the age of
eighty-eight when his harassed life came to a close. A man of tall
stature and noble presence, a wise administrator of the finances of the
Empire, and therefore one who both lightened taxation and accumulated
treasure, a sovereign who chose his servants well and brought his only
considerable war, that with Persia, to a successful issue, Anastasius
would seem to be an Emperor of whom both his own subjects and posterity
should speak favourably. Unfortunately, however, for his fame he became
entangled in that most wearisome of theological debates, which is known
as the Monophysite controversy. In this controversy he took an unpopular
side; he became embroiled with the Roman Pontiff, and estranged from his
own Patriarch of Constantinople. Opposition and the weariness of age
soured a naturally sweet temper, and he was guilty of some harsh
proceedings towards his ecclesiastical opponents. Even worse than his
harshness (which did not, even on the representations of his enemies,
amount to cruelty) was a certain want of absolute truthfulness, which
made it difficult for a beaten foe to trust his promises of forgiveness,
and thus caused the fire of civil discord, once kindled, to smoulder on
almost interminably. The religious party to which he belonged had
probably the majority of the aristocracy of Constantinople on its side,
but the mob and the monks were generally against Anastasius, and some
scenes very humiliating to the Imperial dignity were the consequence of
this antagonism.

(511) Once, when he had resolved on the deposition of the orthodox
Patriarch of Constantinople, Macedonius, so great a tempest of popular
and theological fury raged through the city, that he ordered the great
gates of his palace to be barred and the ships to be made ready at what
is now called Seraglio Point, intending to seek safety in flight. A
humiliating reconciliation with the Patriarch, the order for whose
banishment he rescinded, saved him from this necessity. The citizens and
the soldiers poured through the streets shouting triumphantly: "Our
father is yet with us!" and the storm for the time abated. But the
Emperor had only appeared to yield, and some months later he stealthily
but successfully carried into effect his design for the banishment of
Macedonius. Again, the next year, a religious faction-fight disgraced
the capital of the Empire.

(511) The addition of the words "Who wast crucified for us" to the
chorus of the Te Deum, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty", goaded the
orthodox but fanatical mob to madness. For three days such scenes as
London saw during Lord George Gordon's "No Popery" riots were enacted in
the streets of Constantinople. The palaces of the heterodox ministers
were burned, their deaths were eagerly demanded, the head of a monk,
who was supposed to be responsible for the heretical addition to the
hymn, was carried round the city on a pole, while the murderers shouted:
"Behold the head of an enemy to the Trinity!" Then the statues of the
Emperor were thrown down, an act of insurrection which corresponded to
the building of barricades in the revolutions of Paris, and loud voices
began to call for the proclamation of a popular general as Augustus.
Anastasius this time dreamed not of flight, but took his seat in the
_podium_[104] at the Hippodrome, the great place of public meeting for
the citizens of Constantinople. Thither, too, streamed the excited mob,
fresh from their work of murder and pillage, shouting with hoarse voices
the line of the Te Deum in its orthodox form. A suppliant, without his
diadem, without his purple robe, the white-haired Anastasius, eighty-two
years of age, sat meekly on his throne, and bade the criers declare that
he was ready to lay down the burden of the Empire if the citizens would
decide who should assume it in his stead. The humiliation was accepted,
the clamorous mob were not really of one mind as to the election of a
successor, and Anastasius was permitted still to reign and to reassume
the diadem, which has not often encircled a wearier or more uneasy head.

[Footnote 104: The Imperial box.]

Such an Emperor as this, at war with a large part of his subjects, and
suspected of heresy by the great body of the Catholic clergy, was a much
less formidable opponent for Theodoric than the young and warlike
Clovis, with his rude energy, and his unquestioning if somewhat
truculent orthodoxy. Moreover, at this time, independently of these
special causes of strife, there was a chronic schism between the see of
Rome and the see of Constantinople (precursor of that great schism
which, three centuries later, finally divided the Eastern and Western
Churches), and this schism, though it did not as yet lead to the actual
excommunication of Anastasius,[105] caused him to be looked upon with
coldness and suspicion by the successive Popes of Rome, and made the
rule of Theodoric, avowed Arian as he was, but anxious to hold the
balance evenly between rival churches, far more acceptable at the
Lateran than that of the schismatic partisan Anastasius.

[Footnote 105: By order of Pope Hormisdas the name of Anastasius was
solemnly "erased from the diptychs" in 519; that is, he was virtually
excommunicated after his death, but I do not find that he was formally
excommunicated by the Pope in his life-time.]

For some years after the embassy of Festus (497) and the consequent
recognition of Theodoric by the Emperor, there appears to have been
peace, if no great cordiality, between the courts of Ravenna and
Constantinople. But a war in which Theodoric found himself engaged with
the Gepidæ (504), taking him back as it did into his old unwelcome
nearness to the Danube, led to the actual outbreak of hostilities
between the two States, hostilities, however, which were but of short
duration.

The great city of Sirmium on the Save, the ruins of which may still be
seen about eighty miles west of Belgrade, had once belonged to the
Western Empire and had been rightly looked upon as one of the bulwarks
of Italy. To anyone who studies the configuration of the great Alpine
chain, which parts off the Italian peninsula from the rest of Europe, it
will be manifest that it is in the north-east that that mountain barrier
is the weakest. The Maritime, Pennine, and Cottian Alps, which soar
above the plains of Piedmont and Western Lombardy, afford scarcely any
passes below the snow-line practicable for an invading army. Great
generals, like Hannibal and Napoleon, have indeed crossed them, but the
pride which they have taken in the achievement is the best proof of its
difficulty. Modern engineering science has carried its zig-zag roads up
to their high crests, has thrown its bridges across their ravines, has
defended the traveller by its massive galleries from their avalanches,
and in these later days has even bored its tunnels for miles through the
heart of the mountains; but all these are works done obviously in
defiance of Nature, and if Europe relapsed into a state of barbarism,
the eternal snow and the eternal silence would soon reassert their
supremacy over the frail handiwork of man. Quite different from this is
the aspect of the mountains on the north-eastern border of Italy. The
countries which we now call Venetia and Istria are parted from their
northern neighbours by ranges (chiefly that known as the Julian Alps)
which are indeed of bold and striking outline, but which are not what we
generally understand by "Alpine" in their character, and which often do
not rise to a greater elevation than four thousand feet. Therefore it
was from this quarter of the horizon, from the Pannonian (or in modern
language, Austrian) countries bordering on the Middle Danube, that all
the greatest invaders in the fifth and sixth centuries, Alaric, Attila,
Alboin, bore down upon Italy. And for this reason it was truly said by
an orator[106] who was recounting the praises of Theodoric in connection
with this war: "The city of the Sirmians was of old the frontier of
Italy, upon which Emperors and Senators kept watch, lest from thence the
stored up fury of the neighbouring nations should pour over the Roman
Commonwealth".

[Footnote 106: Ennodius.]

This city of Sirmium, however, and the surrounding territory had now
been for many years divorced from Italy. In Theodoric's boyhood it is
possible that his own barbarian countrymen, occupying as they did the
province of Pannonia, lorded it in the streets of Sirmium, which was
properly a Pannonian city. Since the Ostrogoths evacuated the province
(473), the Gepidæ, as we have seen, had entered it, and it was a king of
the Gepidæ, Traustila, who sought to bar Theodoric's march into Italy,
and who sustained at the hands of the Ostrogothic king the crushing
defeat by the Hiulca Palus (488). Traustila's son, Trasaric, had asked
for Theodoric's help against a rival claimant to the throne, and had,
perhaps, promised to hand over possession of Sirmium in return for that
assistance. Theodoric, who, as king of "the Hesperian realm", felt that
it was a point of honour to recover possession of "the frontier city of
Italy", gave the desired help, but failed to receive the promised
recompense. When Trasaric's breach of faith was manifest, Theodoric sent
an army (504) composed of the flower of the Gothic youth, commanded by a
general named Pitzias, into the valley of the Save. The Gepidaæ, though
reinforced by some of the Bulgarians (who about thirty years before this
time had made their first appearance in the country which now bears
their name), were completely defeated by Pitzias. Trasaric's mother, the
widow of Theodoric's old enemy, Traustila, fell into the hands of the
invaders; Trasaric was expelled from that corner of Pannonia, and
Sirmium, still apparently a great and even opulent city, notwithstanding
the ravages of the barbarians, submitted, probably with joy, to the rule
of Theodoric, under which she felt herself once more united to the Roman
Commonwealth.

We have still (in the "Various Letters" of Cassiodorus) two letters
relating to this annexation of Sirmium. In the first, addressed to Count
Colossæus, that "Illustrious" official is informed that he is appointed
to the governorship of Pannonia Sirmiensis, a former habitation of the
Goths. This province is now to extend a welcome to her old Roman lords,
even as she gladly obeyed her Ostrogothic rulers. Surrounded by the wild
anarchy of the barbarous nations, the new governor is to exhibit the
justice of the Goths, "a nation so happily situated in the midst of
praise, that they could accept the wisdom of the Romans and yet hold
fast the valour of the barbarians". He is to shield the poor from
oppression, and his highest merit will be to establish in the hearts of
the inhabitants of the land the love of peace and order.

To the barbarians and Romans settled in Pannonia the secretary of
Theodoric writes, informing them that he has appointed as their governor
a man mighty in name (Colossæus) and mighty in deeds. They must refrain
from acts of violence and from redressing their supposed wrongs by main
force. Having got an upright judge, they must use him as the arbiter of
their differences. What is the use to man of his tongue, if his armed
hand is to settle his cause, or how can peace be maintained if men take
to fighting in a civilised State? They are therefore to imitate the
example of "our Goths", who do not shrink from battles abroad, but who
have learned to exhibit peaceable moderation at home.

The recovery of Sirmium from the Gepidæ, though doubtless the subject of
congratulation in Italy, was viewed with much displeasure at
Constantinople. Whether the part of Pannonia in which it was included
belonged in strictness to the Eastern or Western Empire, is a question
that has been a good deal discussed and upon which we have perhaps not
sufficient materials for coming to a conclusion. The boundary line
between East and West had undoubtedly fluctuated a good deal in the
fourth and fifth centuries, and the fact that there were not, as viewed
by a Roman statesman, two Empires at all, but only one great
World-Empire, which for the sake of convenience was administered by two
Emperors, one dwelling at Ravenna or Milan and the other at
Constantinople, was probably the reason why that boundary was not
defined as strictly as it would have been between two independent
kingdoms. Moreover, through the greater part of the fifth century, when
Huns and Ostrogoths, Rugians and Gepidæ were roaming over these
countries of the Middle Danube, any claim of either the Eastern or
Western Emperor to rule in these lands must have been so purely
theoretical that it probably seemed hardly worth while to spend time in
defining it. But now that the actual ruler of Italy, and that ruler a
strong and capable barbarian like Theodoric, was holding the great city
of Sirmium, and was sending his governors to civilise and subdue the
inhabitants of what is now called the "Austrian Military Frontier", the
Emperor who reigned at Constantinople was not unlikely to find his
neighbourhood unpleasant.

It was doubtless in consequence of the jealousy, arising from the
conquest of Sirmium, that war soon broke out between the two powers.
Upper Mœsia (in modern geography Servia) was undoubtedly part of the
Eastern Empire, yet it is there that we next find the Gothic troops
engaged in war. (505) Mundo, the Hun, a descendant of Attila, was in
league with Theodoric, but at enmity with the Empire, and was wandering
with a band of freebooters through the half desolate lands south of the
Danube. Sabinian, the son of the general of the same name, who
twenty-six years before had fought with Theodoric in Macedonia, was
ordered by Anastasius to exterminate this disorderly Hun. With 10,000
men (among whom there were some Bulgarian _fœderati_), and with a long
train of waggons containing great store of provisions, he marched from
the Balkans down the valley of the Morava. Mundo, in despair and already
thinking of surrender, called on his Ostrogothic ally for aid, and
Pitzias, marching rapidly with an army of 2,500 young and warlike Goths
(2,000 infantry and 500 cavalry), reached Horrea Margi,[107] the place
where Mundo was besieged, in time to prevent his surrender.
Notwithstanding the enthusiasm of the Gothic troops, the battle was most
stubbornly contested, especially by the fierce Bulgarians, but in the
end Pitzias obtained a complete victory. We may state this fact with
confidence, as it is recorded in the chronicles of an official of the
Eastern Empire.[108] He says of Sabinian: "Having joined battle at
Horrea Margi, and many of his soldiers having been slain in this
conflict and drowned in the river Margus _(Morava)_, having also lost
all his wagons, he fled with a few followers to the fortress which is
called Nato. In this lamentable war so promising an army fell, that,
speaking after the manner of men, its loss could never be repaired".

[Footnote 107: _Morava Hissar_, about half-way between Nisch and
Belgrade.]

[Footnote 108: Marcellinus Comes. Strangely enough he makes no mention
of the Goths as assisting Mundo.]

Without any general campaign, the quarrel between the Goths and the
Empire seems to have smouldered on for three years longer. In his
chronicle for the year 508, the same Byzantine official who has just
been quoted, says very honestly: "Romanus Count of the Domestics and
Rusticus Count of the Scholarii,[109] with 100 armed ships and as many
cutters, carrying 8,000 soldiers, went forth to ravage the shores of
Italy, and proceeded as far as the most ancient city of Tarentum. Having
recrossed the sea they reported to Anastasius Cæsar this inglorious
victory, which in piratical fashion Romans had snatched from their
fellow-Romans".

[Footnote 109: Both these terms denote what we should call "household
troops".]

These words of the chronicler show to what extent Theodoric's kingdom
was looked upon as still forming part of the Roman Empire, and they also
point to the difficulty of the position of Anastasius, who, whatever
might be his cause of quarrel with Theodoric, could only enforce his
complaints against him by resorting to acts which in the eyes of his
subjects wore the unholy appearance of a civil war.

Though we are not precisely informed when or how hostilities were
brought to a close, it seems probable that soon after this raid, about
the year 509, peace, unbroken for the rest of Theodoric's reign, was
re-established between Ravenna and Byzantium. The Epistle which stands
in the forefront of the "Various Letters" of Cassiodorus was probably
written on this occasion.

"Most clement Emperor", says Theodoric, or rather Cassiodorus speaking
in his name, "there ought to be peace between us since there is no real
occasion for animosity. Every kingdom should desire tranquillity, since
under it the people flourish and the common good is secured.
Tranquillity is the comely mother of all useful arts; she multiplies the
race of men as they perish and are renewed; she expands our powers, she
softens our manners, and he who is a stranger to her sway grows up in
ignorance of all these blessings. Therefore, most pious Prince, it
redounds to your glory that we should now seek harmony with your
government, as we have ever felt love for your person. For you are the
fairest ornament of all realms, the safeguard and defence of the world;
to whom all other rulers rightly look up with reverence, inasmuch as
they recognise that there is in you something which exists nowhere else.
But we pre-eminently thus regard you, since by Divine help it was in
your Republic that we learned the art of ruling the Romans with justice.
Our kingdom is an imitation of yours, which is the mould of all good
purposes, the only model of Empire, Just in so far as we follow you do
we surpass all other nations.

"You have often exhorted me to love the Senate, to accept cordially the
legislation of the Emperors, to weld together all the members of Italy.
Then, if you wish thus to form my character by your counsels, how can
you exclude me from your august peace? I may plead, too, affection for
the venerable city of Rome, from which none can separate themselves who
prize that unity which belongs to the Roman name.

"We have therefore thought fit to direct the two Ambassadors who are the
bearers of this letter to visit your most Serene Piety, that the
transparency of peace between us, which from various causes hath been of
late somewhat clouded, may be restored to-its former brightness by the
removal of all contentions. For we think that you, like ourselves,
cannot endure that any trace of discord should remain between two
Republics which, under the older Princes, ever formed but one body, and
which ought not merely to be joined together by a languid sentiment of
affection, but strenuously to help one another with their mutually
imparted strength. Let there be always one will, one thought in the
Roman kingdom. ... Wherefore, proffering the honourable expression of
our salutation, we beg with humble mind that you will not even for a
time withdraw from us the most glorious charity of your Mildness, which
I should have a right to hope for even if it were not granted to others.
(The change from We to I, which here occurs in the original, is
puzzling.)

"Other matters we have left to be suggested to your Piety verbally by
the bearers of this letter, that on the one hand this epistolary speech
of ours may not become too prolix, and on the other that nothing may be
omitted which would tend to our common advantage".

The letter which I have attempted thus to bring before the reader is one
which almost defies accurate translation. It is an exceedingly
diplomatic document, full of courtesy, yet committing the writer to
nothing definite. The very badness of his style enables Cassiodorus to
envelop his meaning in a cloud of words from which the Quæstor of
Anastasius perhaps found it as hard to extract a definite meaning then,
as a perplexed translator finds it hard to render it into intelligible
English now. It is certainly difficult to acquit Cassiodorus of the
charge of a deficient sense of humour, when we find him putting into the
mouth of his master, who had so often marched up and down through
Thrace, ravaging and burning, these solemn praises of "Tranquillity".
And when we read the fulsome flattery which is lavished on Anastasius,
the almost obsequious humbleness with which the great Ostrogoth, who was
certainly the stronger monarch of the two, prays for a renewal of his
friendship, we may perhaps suspect either that the "illiteratus Rex" did
not comprehend the full meaning of the document to which he attached his
signature, or that Cassiodorus himself, in his later years, when, after
the death of his master, he republished his "Various Letters", somewhat
modified their diction so as to make them more Roman, more diplomatic,
more slavishly subservient to the Emperor, than Theodoric himself would
ever have permitted.

One other act of this Emperor must be noticed, as illustrating the
subject of the last chapter. When Clovis returned in triumph from the
Visigothic war (508) he found messengers awaiting him from Anastasius,
who brought to him some documents from the Imperial chancery which are
somewhat obscurely described as "Codicils of the Consulship". Then, in
the church of St. Martin at Tours he was robed in a purple tunic and
_chlamys,_ and placed apparently on his own head some semblance of the
Imperial diadem. At the porch of the basilica he mounted his horse and
rode slowly through the streets of the city to the other chief church,
scattering largesse of gold and silver to the shouting multitude. "From
that day", we are told, "he was saluted as Consul and Augustus".

The name of Clovis does not, like that of Theodoric, appear in the
_Fasti_ of Imperial Rome, and what the precise nature of the consulship
conferred by the "codicils" may have been, it is not easy to
discover.[110] But there is no doubt that the authority which Clovis up
to this time had exercised by the mere right of the stronger, over great
part of Gaul, was confirmed and legitimised by this spontaneous act of
the Augustus at Constantinople, nor that this eager recognition of the
royalty of the slayer of Alaric was meant in some degree as a
demonstration of hostility against Alaric's father-in-law, with whom
Anastasius had not then been reconciled.

[Footnote 110: Perhaps the simplest explanation is that Clovis was not
"Consul ordinarius", but "Consul suffectus". Junghans suggests that he
was Proconsul of one or more of the Gaulish provinces, and Gaudenzi,
accepting this idea, is inclined to call him Proconsul of Narbonese
Gaul.]

The coalition of Eastern Emperor and Frankish King boded no good to
Italy. Perhaps could the eye of Anastasius have pierced through the
mists of seven future centuries, could he have foreseen the insults, the
extortions, the cruelties which a Roman Emperor at Constantinople was to
endure at the hands of "Frankish" invaders,[111] he would not have been
so eager in his worship of the new sun which was rising over Gaul from
out of the marshes of the Scheldt.

[Footnote 111: In the Fourth Crusade, 1203.]

The remainder of the life of Clovis seems to have been chiefly spent in
removing the royal competitors who were obstacles to his undisputed sway
over the Franks. Doubtless these were kings of a poor and barbarous
type, with narrower and less statesmanlike views than those of the
founder of the Merovingian dynasty; but the means employed to remove
them were hardly such as we should have expected from the eldest Son of
the Church, from him who had worn the white robe of a catechumen in the
baptistery at Rheims. His most formidable competitor was Sigebert, king
of the Ripuarian Franks, that is the Franks dwelling on both banks of
the Rhine between Maintz and Koln, in the forest of the Ardennes and
along the valley of the Moselle. But Sigebert, who had sent a body of
warriors to help the Salian king in his war against the Visigoths, was
now growing old, and among these barbarous peoples age and bodily
infirmity were often considered as to some extent disqualifications for
kingship. Clovis accordingly sent messengers to Cloderic, the son of
Sigebert, saying: "Behold thy father has grown old and is lame on his
feet. If he were to die, his kingdom should be thine and we would be thy
friends". Cloderic yielded to the temptation, and when his father went
forth from Koln on a hunting expedition in the beech-forests of Hesse,
assassins employed by Cloderic stole upon him in his tent, as he was
taking his noon-tide slumber, and slew him. The deed being done,
Cloderic sent messengers to Clovis saying: "My father is dead and his
treasures are mine. Send me thy messengers to whom I may confide such
portion of the treasure as thou mayest desire". "Thanks", said Clovis,
"I will send my messengers, and do thou show them all that thou hast,
yet thou thyself shalt still possess all". When the messengers of
Clovis arrived at the palace of the Ripuanan, Cloderic showed them all
the royal hoard. "And here", said he, pointing to a chest, "my father
used to keep his gold coins of the Empire". (In hanc arcellolam solitus
erat pater meus numismata auri congerere.) "Plunge thy hand in", said
the messenger, "and search them down to the very bottom". The King
stooped low to plunge his hand into the coins, and while he stooped the
messenger lifted high his battle-axe and clove his skull. "Thus", says
the pious Gregory, who tells the story, "did the unworthy son fall into
the pit which he had digged for his own father".

When Clovis heard that both father and son were slain, he came to the
same place (probably Colonia) where all these things had come to pass
and called together a great assembly of the Ripuarian people. "Hear", he
said, "what hath happened. While I was quietly sailing down the Scheldt,
Cloderic, my cousin's son, practised against his father's life, giving
forth that I wished him slain, and when he was fleeing through the
beech-forests he sent robbers against him, by whom he was murdered. Then
Cloderic himself, when he was displaying his treasures, was slain by
some one, I know not whom. But in all these things I am free from blame.
For I cannot shed the blood of my relations: that were an unholy thing
to do. But since these events have so happened, I offer you my advice if
it seem good to you to accept it. Turn you to me that you may be under
my defence". Then they, when they heard these things, shouted approval
and clashed their spears upon their shields in sign of assent, and
raising Clovis on a buckler proclaimed him their king. And he receiving
the kingdom and the treasures of Sigebert added the Ripuanans to the
number of his subjects. "For", concludes Gregory, Bishop of Tours, to
whom we owe the story of this enlargement of the dominions of his hero,
"God was daily laying low the enemies of Clovis under his hand and
increasing his kingdom, because he walked before him with a right heart
and did those things which were pleasing in his eyes".

This ideal champion of orthodoxy in the sixth century then proceeded to
clear the ground of the little Salian kings, his nearer relatives and
perhaps more dangerous competitors. Chararic had failed to help him in
his early days against Syagrius. He was deposed: the long hair of the
Merovingians was shorn away from his head and from his son's head, and
they were consecrated as priest and deacon in the Catholic Church.
Chararic wept and wailed over his humiliation, but his son, to cheer
him, said, alluding to the loss of their locks: "The wood is green, and
the leaves may yet grow again. Would that he might quickly perish who
has done these things!" The words were reported to Clovis, who ordered
both father and son to be put to death, and added their hoards to his
treasure, their warriors to his host.

Chararic had not gone forth to the battle against Syagrius, but
Ragnachar of Cambray had given Clovis effectual help in that crisis of
his early fortunes. However Ragnachar, by his dissolute life and his
preposterous fondness for an evil counsellor named Farro, had given
great offence to the proud Franks, his subjects. Just as James I. said
of the forfeited estates of Raleigh: "I maun hae the land, I maun hae it
for Carr", so Ragnachar said whenever anyone offered him a present, or
whenever a choice dish was brought to table: "This will do for me and
Farro". Clovis learned and fomented the secret discontent. He sent to
the disaffected nobles amulets and baldrics of copper-gilt--which they
in their simplicity took for gold,--inviting them to betray their
master. The secret bargain being struck, Clovis then moved his army
towards Cambray. The anxious Ragnachar sent scouts to discover the
strength of the advancing host. "How many are they?" said he on their
return. "Quite enough for thee and Farro", was the discouraging and
taunting reply: and in fact the soldiers of Ragnachar seem to have been
beaten as soon as the battle was set in array. With his hands bound
behind his back, Ragnachar and his brother Richiar were brought into the
presence of Clovis. "Shame on thee", said the indignant king, "for
humiliating our race by suffering thy hands to be bound. It had been
better for thee to die--thus", and the great battle-axe descended on his
head. Then turning to Richiar, he said: "If thou hadst helped thy
brother, he would not have been bound"; and his skull too was cloven
with the battle-axe. Before many days the traitorous chiefs discovered
the base metal in the ornaments which had purchased their treason, and
complained of the fraud. "Good enough gold", said Clovis, "for men who
were willing to betray their lord to death"; and the traitors, trembling
for their lives under his frown and fierce rebuke, were glad to leave
the matter undiscussed.

Thus in all his arguments with the weaker creatures around him the
Frankish king was always right. It was always they, not he, who had
befouled the stream. In this, shall I say, shameless plausibility of
wrong, the founder of the Frankish monarchy was a worthy prototype of
Louis XIV. and of Napoleon.

Having slain these and many other kings, and extended his dominions over
the whole of Gaul, he once, in an assembly of his nobles, lamented his
solitary estate. "Alas, I am but a stranger and a pilgrim, and have no
kith or kin who could help me if adversity came upon me". But this he
said, not in real grief for their death, but in guile, in order that if
there were any forgotten relative lurking anywhere he might come forth
and be killed. None, however, was found to answer to the
invitation.[112]

[Footnote 112: We are reminded of the well-known story of Marshal
Narvaez on his death-bed. "My son", said the confessor, "it is necessary
that you should with all your heart grant forgiveness to your enemies".
"Ah, that is easy", said the dying man, "I have shot them all".]

Like all his family, Clovis was short-lived, though not so conspicuously
short-lived as many of his descendants. He died at forty-five, in the
year 511, five years after the battle of the Campus Vogladensis. He was
buried (511) in the Church of the Holy Apostles at Paris, and his
kingdom, consolidated with so much labor and at the price of so many
crimes, was partitioned among his four sons. The aged Emperor
Anastasius survived his Frankish ally seven years, and died in the
eighty-ninth year of his age, 8th July, 518. His death was sudden, and
some later writers averred that it was caused by a thunderstorm, of
which he had always had a peculiar and superstitious fear. Others
declared that he was inadvertently buried alive, that he was heard to
cry out in his coffin, and that when it was opened some days after, he
was found to have gnawed his arm. But these facts are not known to
earlier and more authentic historians, and the invention of them seems
to be only a rhetorical way of putting the fact that he died at enmity
with the Holy See.

[Illustration: COPPER COIN OF ANASTASIUS FORTY NUMMI.]




                            CHAPTER XII.


                         ROME AND RAVENNA.

Theodoric's visit to Rome--Disputed Papal election--Theodoric's speech
at the Golden Palm--The monk Fulgentius--Bread-distributions--Races in
the Circus--Conspiracy of Odoin--Return to Ravenna--Marriage festivities
of Amalaberga--Description of Ravenna--Mosaics in the churches--S.
Apollinare Dentro--Processions of virgins and martyrs--Arian
baptistery--So-called palace of Theodoric--Vanished statues.


The death of Anastasius was followed by changes in the attitude towards
one another of Pope and Emperor, which embittered the closing years of
Theodoric and caused his sun to set in clouds. But before we occupy
ourselves with these transactions, we may consider a little more
carefully the relations between Theodoric and his subjects in the
happier days, the early and middle portion of his reign, and for this
purpose we will first of all hear what the chroniclers have to tell us
of a memorable visit to Rome which he paid in the eighth year after his
accession, that year which, according to our present chronology, is
marked as the five hundredth after the birth of Christ.[113]

[Footnote 113: The chronology now in use, invented by the monk Dionysius
Exiguus, a friend of Cassiodorus, was not adopted till some years after
the death of Theodoric. Consequently, 500 a.d. would be known in Rome
only as 1252 A.U.C. (from the foundation of the City), and would have no
special interest attaching to it.]

Rome had been for more than two centuries strangely neglected by the
rulers who in her name lorded it over the civilised world. Ever since
Diocletian's reconstruction of the Empire, it had been a rare event for
an Augustus to be seen within her walls. Even the Emperor who had Italy
for his portion generally resided at Milan or Ravenna rather than on the
banks of the Tiber. Constantine was but a hasty visitor before he went
eastward to build his marvellous New Rome beside the Bosphorus. His son
Constantius in middle life paid one memorable visit(357). Thirty years
later Theodosius followed his example. His son Honorius celebrated
there(403) his doubtful triumph over Alaric, and his grandson,
Valentinian III., was standing in the Roman Campus Martius when he fell
under the daggers of the avengers of Aëtius. But the fact that these
visits are so pointedly mentioned shows the extreme rarity of their
occurrence; nor was any great alteration wrought herein by Theodoric,
for this visit to Rome, which we are now about to consider, and which
lasted for six months, seems to have been the only one that he ever paid
in the course of his reign of thirty-three years.

He came at an opportune time, when there was a lull in the strife,
amounting almost to civil war, caused by a disputed Papal election. Two
years before, two bodies of clergy had met on the same day (22d.
November) in different churches, in order to elect the successor to a
deceased pope. The larger number, assembled in the mother-church, the
Lateran, elected a deacon of Sardinian extraction, named Symmachus. The
smaller but apparently more aristocratic body, backed by the favour of
the majority of the Senate and supported by the delegates of the
Emperor, met in the church now called by the name of S. Maria Maggiore
and voted for the arch-presbyter Laurentius.

The effect of this contested election was to throw Rome into confusion.
Parties of armed men who favoured the cause of one or the other
candidate paraded the City, and all the streets were filled with riot
and bloodshed. It seemed as if the days of Marius and Sulla were come
back again, though it would have been impossible to explain to either
Marius or Sulla what was the nature of the contest, a dispute as to the
right to be considered successor to a fisherman of Bethsaida. When the
anarchy was becoming intolerable, the Senate, Clergy, and People
determined to invoke the mediation of Theodoric, thus furnishing the
highest testimony to the reputation for fairness and impartiality which
had been earned by the Arian king. Both the rival bishops repaired to
Ravenna, and having laid the case before the king, heard his answer.
"Whichsoever candidate was first chosen, if he also received the
majority of votes, shall be deemed duly elected". Both qualifications
were united in Symmachus, who was therefore for a time recognised as
lawful Pope even by Laurentius himself.

The disturbances broke out again later on; charges, probably false
charges, of gross immorality were brought against Symmachus, who fled
from Rome, returned, was tried by a Synod, and acquitted. It was not
till after nearly six years had elapsed and six Synods had been held,
that Laurentius and his party gave up the contest and finally acquiesced
in the legitimacy of the claim of Symmachus to the Popedom.

But most of these troubles were still to come: there was a lull in the
storm, and it seemed as if the king's wise and righteous judgment had
settled the succession to the Papal chair, when in the year 500
Theodoric visited Rome, seeing for the first time, in full middle life,
the City whose name he had doubtless often heard with a child's wonder
and awe in his father's palace by the Platten See. His first visit was
paid to the great basilica of St. Peter, outside the walls, where he
performed his devotions with all the outward signs of reverence which
would have been exhibited by the most pious Catholic.[114]

[Footnote 114: Et occurrit Beato Petro devotissimus ac si Catholicus
(Anon. Valesn, 65).]

Before he entered the gates of the City he was welcomed by the Senate
and People of Rome, who poured forth to meet him with every indication
of joy. Borne along by the jubilant throng, he reached the Senate-house,
which still stood in its majesty overlooking the Roman Forum. Here, in
some portico attached to the Senate-house, which bore the name of the
Golden Palm, he delivered an oration to the people. The accent of the
speech may not have been faultless,[115] the style was assuredly not
Ciceronian, but the matter was worthy of the enthusiastic acclamations
with which it was received. Recognising the continuity of his government
with that of the Emperors who had preceded him, he promised that with
God's help he would keep inviolate all that the Roman Princes in the
past had ordained for their people. So might a Norman or Angevin king,
anxious to re-assure his Saxon subjects, swear to observe all the laws
of the good King Edward the Confessor.

[Footnote 115: It is possible that historians somewhat underrate the
degree of Theodoric's acquaintance with Latin as a spoken language.
There was a great deal of Latin used in the Pannonian and Mesian
regions, in which his childhood and youth were passed; and some, though
certainly not so much, at Constantinople, where he spent his boyhood.]

This speech of Theodoric's at the Golden Palm was listened to by an
obscure African monk, whose emotions on the occasion are described to us
by his biographer. Fulgentius, the grandson of a senator of Carthage,
had forsaken what seemed a promising official career, and had accepted
the solitude and the hardships of a monastic life, at a time when, owing
to the severe persecution of the Catholics by the Vandal kings, there
was no prospect of anything but ignominy, exile, and perhaps death for
every eminent confessor of the Catholic faith. Fulgentius and his
friends had suffered many outrages at the hands of Numidian freebooters
and Vandal officers, and they meditated a flight into Egypt, where they
might practise a yet more rigid monastic rule undisturbed by the civil
power. In his search after a suitable resting-place for his community,
Fulgentius, who was in the thirty-third year of his age, had visited
Sicily, and now had reached Rome in this same summer of 500, which was
made memorable by Theodoric's visit. "He found", we are told, "the
greatest joy in this City, truly called 'the head of the world,' both
the Senate and People of Rome testifying their gladness at the presence
of Theodoric the King. Wherefore the blessed Fulgentius, to whom the
world had long been crucified, after he had visited with reverence the
shrines of the martyrs and saluted with humble deference as many of the
servants of God as he could in so short a time be introduced to, stood
in that place which is called Palma Aurea while Theodoric was making his
harangue. There, as he gazed upon the nobles of the Roman Senate
marshalled in their various ranks and adorned with comely dignity, and
as he heard with chaste ears the favouring shouts of the people, he had
a chance of knowing what the boastful pomp of this world resembles. Yet
he looked not willingly upon aught in this gorgeous spectacle, nor was
his heart seduced to take any pleasure in these worldly vanities, but
rather kindled thereby to a more vehement desire for Jerusalem above.
And thus with edifying discourse did he ever admonish the brethren who
were present: 'How fair must be that heavenly Jerusalem, if the earthly
Rome be thus magnificent! And if in this world such honour is paid to
the lovers of vanity, what honour and glory shall be bestowed on the
Saints who behold the Eternal Reality.' With many such words as these
did the blessed Fulgentius debate with them in a profitable manner all
that day, and now with his whole heart earnestly desiring to behold his
monastery again, he sailed swiftly to Africa, touching at Sardinia, and
presented himself to his monks, who, in the excess of their joy, could
scarcely believe that the blessed Fulgentius was indeed returned".

Besides his promises of good government according to the old laws of
Empire, Theodoric recognised the duty which, according to
long-established usage, devolved upon the supreme ruler to provide
"panem et circenses" [116] for the citizens of Rome. The elaborate
machinery, part of the crowned Socialism of the Empire, by which a
certain number of loaves of bread had been distributed to the poorer
householders of the City, had probably broken down in the death-agony of
the Cæsars of the West, and had not been again set going by Odovacar. We
are told that Theodoric now distributed as rations "to the people of
Rome and to the poor" 120,000 _modii_ of corn yearly. As this represents
only 30,000 bushels, and as in the flourishing days of the Empire no
fewer than 200,000 citizens used to present themselves, probably once or
twice a week, to receive their rations, it is evident that (if the
chronicler's numbers are correct) we have here no attempt to revive the
wholesale distribution of corn to the citizens--an expenditure with
which the finances of Theodoric's kingdom were probably quite unable to
cope. What was now done was more strictly a measure of "out-door relief"
for the absolutely destitute classes, and was therefore a more
legitimate employment of the energies of the State than the socialistic
attempt to feed a whole people, which had preceded it.

[Footnote 116: Bread and circus-shows.]

At the same time that he granted these _annonæ,_ Theodoric also set
aside, from the proceeds of a certain wine-tax, two hundred pounds of
gold (£8,000) yearly for the restoration of the Imperial dwellings on
the Palatine, and for the repair of the walls of Rome. Little did he
foresee that a time would come when those walls, battered and breached
as they were, would be all too strong for the fortunes of the Gothic
warriors who would dash themselves vainly against their ramparts.

It was now thirty years since Theodoric, returning from his exile at
Constantinople, had been hailed by his Gothic countrymen as a partner of
his father's throne. In memory of that event, from which he was
separated by so many years of toil and triumph, so many battles, so many
marches, so many weary negotiations with emperors and kings, Theodoric
celebrated his Tricennalia at Rome. On this occasion the gigantic
Flavian Amphitheatre--the Colosseum as we generally call it--seems not
to have been opened to the people. The old murderous fights with
gladiators which once dyed its pavement with human blood had been for a
century suppressed by the influence of the Church, and the costly shows
of wild beasts which were the permitted substitute would perhaps have
taxed too heavily the still feeble finances of the State. But to the
Circus Maximus all the citizens crowded in order to see the
chariot-races which were run there, and which recalled the brilliant
festivities of the Empire. The Circus, oval in form, notwithstanding its
name, was situated in the long valley between the Palatine and Aventine
Hills. High above, on the north-east, rose the palaces of the Cæsars
already mouldering to decay, but one of which had probably been
furbished up to make it a fitting residence for the king of the Goths
and Romans. On the south-west the solemn Aventme still perhaps showed
side by side the decaying temples of the gods and the mansions of the
holy Roman matrons who, under the preaching of St. Jerome, had made
their sumptuous palaces the homes of monastic self-denial. In the long
ellipse between the two hills the citizens of Rome were ranged, not too
many now in the dwindled state of the City to find elbow-room for all. A
shout of applause went up from senators and people as the Gothic king,
surrounded by a brilliant throng of courtiers, moved majestically to his
seat in the Imperial _podium._

At one end of the Circus were twelve portals (ostia), behind which the
eager charioteers were waiting. In the middle of it there rose the long
platform called the _spina,_ at either end of which stood an obelisk
brought from Egypt by an Emperor. (One of these obelisks now adorns the
Piazza del Popolo, and the other the square in front of the Lateran.) At
a signal from the king the races began. Whether the first heat would be
between bigæ or quadrigæ (two-horse or four-horse chariots), we cannot
say; but, of one kind or the other, twelve chariots bounded forth from
the _ostia_ the moment that the rope which had hitherto confined them
was let fall. Seven times they careered round and round the long
_spina,_ of course with eager struggles to get the inside turn, and
perhaps with a not infrequent fall when a too eager charioteer, in his
desire to accomplish this, struck against the protecting curbstone. Ac
each circuit was completed by the foremost chariot, a steward of the
races placed a great wooden egg in a conspicuous place upon the _spina_
to mark the score; and keen was the excitement when, in a match between
two well-known rivals, six eggs announced to the spectators that the
seventh, the deciding circuit, had begun. The entire course thus
traversed seven times in each direction made a race of between three and
four miles, and each heat would probably occupy nearly a quarter of an
hour.[117] The number of heats _(missus)_ was usually four and twenty,
and we may therefore imagine Theodoric and his people occupying the best
part of a summer day in watching the galloping steeds, the shouting,
lashing drivers, and the fast-flashing chariot wheels.

[Footnote 117: I take this calculation from Friedlander
(Sittengeschichte Roms, II., 329), but I cannot find the precise figures
on which he bases his calculation We know the length of the Circus, but
of course for our purpose the length of the _spina_ round which the
chariots careered is the important factor.]

At Rome, as at Constantinople, though not in quite so exaggerated a
degree, partisanship with the charioteers was more than a passing
fancy; it was a deep and abiding passion with the multitude, and it
sometimes went very near to actual madness. Four colours, the Blue and
the Green, the White and the Red, were worn respectively by the drivers,
who served each of the four joint-stock companies (as we should call
them) that catered for the taste of the race-loving multitude. Red and
White had had their day of glory and still won a fair proportion of
races, but the keenest and most terrible competition was between Blue
and Green. At Constantinople, a generation later than the time which we
have now reached, the undue favour which an Emperor (Justinian.) was
accused (532) of showing to the Blues caused an insurrection which
wrapped the city in flames and nearly cost that Emperor his throne. No
such disastrous consequences resulted from circus-partisanship in Rome:
but even in Rome that partisanship was very bitter, and, in the view of
a philosopher, supremely ridiculous. As the sage Cassiodorus remarked:
"In these beyond all other shows, men's minds are hurried into
excitement, without any regard to a fitting sobriety of character. The
Green charioteer flashes by: part of the people is in despair. The Blue
gets a lead: a larger part of the City is in misery. The populace cheer
frantically when they have gained nothing; they are cut to the heart
when they have received no loss; and they plunge with as much eagerness
into these empty contests as if the whole welfare of their imperilled
country depended upon them". In two other letters Theodoric is obliged
seriously to chide the Roman Senate for its irascible temper in dealing
with one of the factions of the Circus. A Patrician and a Consul, so it
was alleged, had truculently assaulted the Green party, and one man had
lost his life in the fray. The king ordered that the matter should be
enquired into by two officials of "Illustrious" rank, who had special
jurisdiction in cases wherein nobles of high position were concerned. He
then replied to a counter-accusation which had been brought by the
Senators against the mob for assailing them with rude clamours in the
Hippodrome. "You must distinguish", says the king, "between deliberate
insolence and the festive impertinences of a place of public amusement.
It is not exactly a congregation of Catos that comes together at the
Circus. The place excuses some excesses. And moreover you must remember
that these insulting cries generally proceed from the beaten party: and
therefore you need not complain of clamour which is the result of a
victory that you earnestly desired". Again the king had to warn the
Senators not to bring disgrace on their good name and do violence to
public order by allowing their menials to embroil themselves with the
mob of the Hippodrome. Any slave accused of having shed the blood of a
free-born citizen was to be at once given up to justice; or else his
master was to pay a fine of £400, and to incur the severe displeasure of
the king. "And do not you, O Senators, be too strict in marking every
idle word which the mob may utter in the midst of the general rejoicing.
If any insult which requires special notice should be offered you,
bring it before the Prefect of the City. This is far wiser and safer
than taking the law into your own hands".

The festivities which celebrated Theodoric's visit to the Eternal City
were perhaps somewhat discordantly interrupted by the discovery of a
conspiracy against him, set on foot by a certain Count Odoin, about whom
we have no other information, but the form of whose name at once
suggests that he was of Gothic, not Roman, extraction. It is possible
that this conspiracy indicates the discontent of the old Gothic nobility
with the increasing tendency to copy Roman civilisation and to assume
Imperial prerogatives which they observed in the king who had once been
little more than chief among a band of comrades. But we have not
sufficient information as to this conspiracy to enable us to fix its
true place in the history of Theodoric, nor can we even say with
confidence that it was directed against the king and not against one of
his ministers. The result alone is certain. Odoin's treachery was
discovered and he was beheaded in the Sessorian palace, a building which
probably stood upon the patrimony of Constantine, hard by the southern
wall of Rome, and near to the spot where we now see the Church of Santa
Croce.

At the request of the people, the words of Theodoric's harangue on his
entrance into the City were engraved on a brazen tablet, which was fixed
in a place of public resort, perhaps the Roman Forum. Even so did the
_Joyeuse Entrée_ of a Burgundian duke into Brussels confirm and
commemorate the privileges of his good subjects the citizens of
Brabant. Upon the whole, there can be little doubt that the half-year
which Theodoric spent in Rome was really a time of joyfulness both to
prince and people, and that the tiles which are still occasionally
turned up by the spade in Rome, bearing the inscription "Domino Nostro
Theodorico Felix Roma", were not merely the work of official flatterers,
but did truly express the joy of a well-governed nation. After six
months Theodoric returned to that city, which, during the last thirty
years of his life, he probably regarded as his home--Ravenna by the
Adriatic,--and there he delighted the heart of his subjects by the
pageants which celebrated the marriage of his niece Amalaberga with
Hermanfrid, the king of the distant Thuringians. This young prince, whom
Theodoric had adopted as his "son by right of arms" [118] had sent to
his future kinsman a team of cream-coloured horses of a rare breed,[119]
and Theodoric sent in return horses, swords and shields, and other
instruments of war, but, as he said, "the greatest requital that we make
is joining you in marriage to a woman of such surpassing beauty as our
niece".

[Footnote 118: Filius per arma.]

[Footnote 119: Perhaps it might be safe to call these horses cobs; but
let Cassiodorus describe their points. They were "horses of a silvery
colour, as nuptial horses ought to be. Their chests and thighs are
adorned in a becoming manner with spheres of flesh. Their ribs are
expanded to a certain breadth; their bellies are short and narrow. Their
heads have a likeness to the stag's, and they imitate the swiftness of
that animal. These horses are gentle from their extreme plumpness; very
swift, for all their bigness, pleasant to look upon, yet more pleasant
to ride. For they have gentle paces and do not fatigue their riders with
insane curvetings. To ride them is rest rather than labour; and being
broken in to a delightfully steady pace, they have great staying power
and lasting activity". These sleek and easy-paced cobs are not at all
the ideal present from a rough barbarian of the North to his "father in
arms".]

The later fortunes of the Ostrogothic princess who thus migrated from
Ravenna to the banks of the Elbe were not happy. A proud and ambitious
woman, she is said to have stimulated her husband to make himself, by
fratricide and civil war, sole king of the Thuringians. The help of one
of the sons of Clovis had been unwisely invoked for this operation. So
long as the Ostrogothic hero lived, Thuringia was safe under his
protection, but soon after his death dissensions arose between Franks
and Thuringians; a claim of payment was made for the ill-requited
services of the former. Thuringia was invaded, (531) her king defeated,
and after a while treacherously slain. Amalaberga took refuge with her
kindred at Ravenna, and after the collapse of their fortunes retired to
Constantinople, where her son entered the Imperial service. In after
years that son, "Amalafrid the Goth", was not the least famous of the
generals of Justinian. The broad lands between the Elbe and the Danube,
over which the Thuringians had wandered, were added to the dominions of
the Franks and became part of the mighty kingdom of Austrasia.

I have had occasion many times in the preceding pages to write the name
of Ravenna, the residence of most of the sovereigns of the sinking
Empire, and now the home of Theodoric. Let me attempt in a few
paragraphs to give some faint idea of the impression which this city, a
boulder-stone left by the icedrift of the dissolving Empire amid the
green fields of modern civilisation, produces on the mind of a
traveller.

Ravenna stands in a great alluvial plain between the Apennines, the
Adriatic, and the Po. The fine mud, which has been for centuries poured
over the land by the streams descending from the mountains, has now
silted up her harbour, and Classis, the maritime suburb of Ravenna,
which, in the days of Odovacar and Theodoric, was a busy sea port on the
Adriatic, now consists of one desolate church--magnificent in its
desolation--and two or three farm-buildings standing in the midst of a
lonely and fever-haunted rice-swamp. Between the city and the sea
stretches for miles the glorious pine-forest, now alas! cruelly maimed
by the hands of Nature and of Man, by the frost of one severe winter and
by the spades of the builders of a railway, but still preserving some
traces of its ancient beauty. Here it was that Theodoric pitched his
camp when for three weary years he blockaded his rival's last
stronghold, and here by the deep trench (_fossatum_), which he had dug
to guard that camp, he fought the last and not the least deadly of his
fights, when Odovacar made his desperate sortie from the famine-stricken
town. Memories of a gentler kind, but still not wanting in sadness, now
cluster round the solemn avenues of the Pineta. There we still seem to
see Dante wandering, framing his lay of the "selva oscura", through
which lay his path to the unseen world, and ever looking in vain for the
arrival of the messenger who should summon him back to ungrateful
Florence. There, in Boccaccio's story, a maiden's hapless ghost is for
ever pursued through the woods by "the spectre-huntsman", Guido
Cavalcanti, whom her cruelty had driven to suicide. And there, in our
fathers' days, rode Byron, like Dante, an exile, if self-exiled, from
his country, and feeding on bitter remembrances of past praise and
present blame, both too lightly bestowed by his countrymen.

We leave the pine-wood and the desolate-looking rice-fields, we cross
over the sluggish streams--Ronco and Montone--and we stand in the
streets of historic Ravenna. Our first thoughts are all of
disappointment. There is none of the trim beauty of a modern city, nor,
as we at first think, is there any of the endless picturesqueness of a
well-preserved mediæval city. We look in vain for any building like
Giotto's Campanile at Florence, for any space like that noble,
crescent-shaped Forum, full of memories of the Middle Ages, the Piazzo
del Campo of Siena. We see some strange but not altogether beautiful
bell-towers and one or two brown cupolas breaking the sky-line, but that
seems to be all, and our first feeling as I have said, is one of
disappointment. But when we enter the churches, if we have leisure to
study, them, if we can let their spirit mingle with our spirits, if we
can quietly ask them what they have to tell us of the Past, all
disappointment vanishes. For Ravenna is to those who will study her
attentively a very Pompeii of the fifth century, telling us as much
concerning those years of the falling Empire and the rising Mediæval
Church as Pompeii can tell us of the social life of the Romans in the
days of triumphant Paganism.

Not that the record is by any means perfect. Many leaves have been torn
out of the book by the childish conceit of recent centuries, which
vainly imagined that they could write something instead, which any
mortal would now care to read. The destroying hand of the so-called
_Renaissance_ has passed over these churches, defacing sometimes the
chancel, sometimes the nave. One of the most interesting of the churches
of Ravenna[120] has "the cupola disfigured by wretched paintings which
mislead the eye in following the lines of the building". Another[121]
has its apse covered with those gilt spangles and clouds and cherubs
which were the eighteenth century's ideal of impressive religious art.
The Duomo, which should have been one of the mosf interesting of all the
monuments of Ravenna, was almost entirely rebuilt in the last century,
and is now scarcely worth visiting. Still, enough remains in the
un-restored churches of Ravenna to captivate the attention of every
student of history and every lover of early Christian art. It is only
necessary to shut our eyes to the vapid and tasteless work of recent
embellishers, as we should close our ears to the whispers of vulgar
gossipers while listening to some noble and entrancing piece of sacred
music.

[Footnote 120: S. Vitale. The quotation is from Prof. Freeman,
"Historical and Architectural Sketches", p. 53.]

[Footnote 121: S. Apollinare Dentro.]

Thus concentrating our attention on that which is really interesting and
venerable in these churches, while we admire their long colonnades,
their skilful use of ancient columns--some of which may probably have
adorned the temples of Olympian deities in the days of the
Emperors,--and the exceedingly rich and beautiful new forms of capitals,
of a design quite unknown to Vitruvius, which the genius of Romanesque
artists has invented, we find that our chief interest is derived from
the mosaics with which these churches were once so lavishly adorned.
Mosaic, as is well-known, is the most permanent of all the processes of
decorative art. Fresco must fade sooner or later, and where there is any
tendency to damp, it fades with cruel rapidity. Oil painting on canvas
changes its tone in the long course of years, and the boundary line
between cleaning and repainting is difficult to observe. But the
fragments out of which the mosaic picture is formed, having been already
passed through the fire, will keep their colour for centuries, we might
probably say for millenniums. Damp injures them not, except by lessening
the cement with which they are fastened to the wall, and therefore when
restore tion of a mosaic picture becomes necessary, a really
conscientious restorer can always reproduce the picture with precisely
the same form and colour which it had when the last stone was inserted
by the original artist. And thus, when we visit Ravenna, we have the
satisfaction of feeling that we are (in many cases) looking upon the
very same picture which was gazed upon by the contemporaries of
Theodoric. Portraits of Theodoric himself, unfortunately we have none;
but we have two absolutely contemporary portraits of Justinian, the
overturner of his kingdom, and one of Justinian's wife, the celebrated
Theodora. These pictures, it is interesting to remember, were
considerably older when Cimabue found Giotto in the sheepfolds drawing
sheep upon a tile, than any picture of Cimabue's or Giotto's is at the
present time.

Let us enter the church which is now called "S. Apollinare within the
Walls", but which in the time of Theodoric was called the Church of S.
Martin, often with the addition "de Cælo Aureo", on account of the
beautiful gilded ceiling which distinguished it from the other basilicas
of Ravenna. This church was built by order of Theodoric, who apparently
intended it to be his own royal chapel. Probably, therefore, the great
Ostrogoth many a time saw "the Divine mysteries" celebrated here by
bishops and priests of the Arian communion. Two long colonnades fill the
nave of the church. The columns are classical, with Corinthian capitals,
and are perhaps brought from some older building. A peculiarity of the
architecture consists in the high abacus--a frustum of an inverted
pyramid--which is interposed between the capital of the column and the
arch that springs from it, as if to give greater height than the columns
alone would afford. Such in its main features was the Church of "St.
Martin of the Golden Heaven", when Theodoric worshipped under its
gorgeous roof. But its chief adornment, the feature which makes more
impression on the beholder than anything else in Ravenna, was added
after Theodoric's death, yet not so long after but that it may be
suitably alluded to here as a specimen of the style of decoration which
his eyes must have been wont to look upon. About the year 560, after the
downfall of the Gothic monarchy, Agnellus, the Catholic Bishop of
Ravenna, "reconciled" this church, that is, re-consecrated it for the
performance of worship by orthodox priests, and in doing so adorned the
attics of the nave immediately above the colonnades with two remarkable
mosaic friezes, each representing a long procession.

On the north wall of the church we behold a procession of Virgin
Martyrs. They are twenty-four in number, a little larger than life, and
are chiefly those maidens who suffered in the terrible persecution of
Diocletian. The place from which they start is a seaport town with ships
entering the harbour, domes and columns and arcades showing over the
walls of the city. An inscription tells us that we have here represented
the city of Classis, the seaport of Ravenna. By the time that we have
reached the last figure in this long procession we are almost at the
east end of the nave. Here we see the Virgin-mother throned in glory
with the infant Jesus on her lap, and two angels on each side of her.
But between the procession and the throne is interposed the group of the
three Wise Men, in bright-coloured raiment, with tiara-like crowns upon
their heads, stooping forward as if with eager haste[122] to present
their various oblations to the Divine Child.

[Footnote 122: So Milton in his "Ode on the Nativity":

    "See how from far along the Eastern road,
     The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet.
     Oh run, present them with thy humble ode,
     And lay it lowly at His blessed feet".]

On the right, or south wall of the church, a similar procession of
martyred men, twenty-six in number, seems to move along, in all the
majesty of suffering, bearing their crowns of martyrdom as offerings to
the Redeemer. The Christ is here not an infant but a full-grown man, the
Man of Sorrows, His head encircled with a nimbus, and two angels are
standing on either side. The martyr-procession starts from a building,
with pediment above and three arches resting upon pillars below. The
intervals between the pillars are partly filled with curtains looped up
in a curious fashion and with bright purple spots upon them. An
inscription on this building tells us that it is PALATIUM, that is
Theodoric's palace at Ravenna.

In both these processions the representation is, of course, far from the
perfection of Art. Both the faces and the figures have a certain
stiffness, partly due to the very nature of mosaic-work. There is also a
sort of child-like simplicity in the treatment, especially of the female
figures, which an unsympathetic critic would call grotesque. But, I
think, most beholders feel that there is something indescribably solemn
in these two great mosaic pictures in S. Apollinare Dentro. From the
glaring, commonplace Italian town with its police-notices and its
proclamation of the number of votes given to the government of Vittorio
Emmanuele, you step into the grateful shade of the church and find
yourself transported into the sixth century after Christ. You are
looking on the faces of the men and maidens who suffered death with
torture rather than deny their Lord. For thirteen centuries those two
processions have seemed to be moving on upon the walls of the basilica,
and another ceaseless procession of worshippers, Goths, Byzantines,
Lombards, Franks, Italians, has been in reality moving on beneath them
to the grave. And then you remind yourself that when the artist sketched
those figures on the walls, he was separated by no longer interval than
three long lives would have bridged over, from the days of the
persecution itself, that there were still men living on the earth who
worshipped the Olympian Jupiter, and that the name of Mohammed, son of
Abdallah, was unknown in the world. So, as you gaze, the telescope of
the historic imagination does its work, and the far-off centuries become
near.

One or two other Arian churches built during Theodoric's reign in the
northern suburb of the city have now entirely disappeared. There still
remains, however, the church which Theodoric seems to have built as the
cathedral of the Arian community, while leaving the old metropolitan
church (Ecclesia Ursiana, now the Duomo) as the cathedral of the
Catholics. This Arian cathedral was dedicated to St. Theodore, but has
in later ages been better known as the church of the Holy Spirit.
Tasteless restoration has robbed it of the mosaics which it doubtless
once possessed, but it has preserved its fine colonnade consisting of
fourteen columns of dark green marble with Corinthian capitals, whose
somewhat unequal height seems to show that they, like so many of their
sisters, have been brought from some other building, where they have
once perhaps served other gods.

Through the court-yard of the Church of San Spirito, we approach a
little octagonal building known both as the Oratory of S. Maria in
Cosmedia and as the Arian Baptistery. The great octagonal font, which
once stood in the centre of the building, has disappeared, but we can
easily reconstruct it in our imaginations from the similar one which
still remains in the Catholic Baptistery. The interest of this building
consists in the mosaics of its cupola. On the disk, in the centre, is
represented the Baptism of Christ. The Saviour stands, immersed up to
His loins, in the Jordan, whose water flowing past Him is depicted with
a quaint realism. The Baptist stands on His left side and holds one hand
over His head. On the right of the Saviour stands an old man, who is
generally said to represent the River-god, and the reed in his hand, the
urn, from which water gushes, under his arms, certainly seem to favour
this supposition. But in order to avoid so strange a medley of
Christianity and heathenism it has been suggested that the figure may be
meant for Moses, and in confirmation of this theory some keen-eyed
beholders have thought they perceived the symbolical horned rays
proceeding from each side of the old man's forehead.

Round this central disk are seen the figures of the twelve Apostles.
They are divided into two bands of six each, who seem marching, with
crowns in their hands, towards a throne covered with a veil and a
cushion, on which rests a cross blazing with jewels. St. Peter stands on
the right of the throne, St. Paul on the left; and these two Apostles
carry instead of crowns, the one the usual keys, and the other two rolls
of parchment. The interest of these figures, though they have something
of the stern majesty of early mosaic-work, is somewhat lessened by the
fact that they have undergone considerable restoration. It is suggested,
I know not whether on sufficient grounds, that the figures of the
Apostles were added when the Baptistery was "reconciled" to the Catholic
worship after the overthrow of the Gothic dominion.

Two more buildings at Ravenna which are connected with the name of
Theodoric require to be noticed by us,--his Palace and his Tomb. The
story of his Tomb, however, will be best told when his reign is ended.
As for the Palace, which once occupied a large space in the eastern
quarter of the city, we have seen that there is a representation of it
in mosaic on the walls of S. Apollinare Dentro. Closely adjoining that
church, and facing the modern Corso Garibaldi, is a wall about five and
twenty feet high, built of square brick-tiles, which has in its upper
storey one large and six small arched recesses, the arches resting on
columns. Only the front is ancient--it is admitted that the building
behind it is modern. Low down in the wall, so low that the citizens of
Ravenna, in passing, brush it with their sleeves, is a bath-shaped
vessel of porphyry, which in the days of archaeological ignorance used
to be shown to strangers as "the coffin of Theodoric", but the fact is
that its history and its purpose are entirely unknown.

This shell of a building is called in the Ravenna Guide-books "the
Palace of Theodoric". Experts are not yet agreed on the question whether
its architectural features justify us in referring it to the sixth
century, though all agree that it does not belong to a much later
age.[123] It does not agree with the representation of the _Palatium_ in
the Church of S. Apollinare Dentro, and if it have anything whatever to
do with it, it is probably not the main front, nor even any very
important feature of the spacious palace, which, as we are told by the
local historians,[124] and learn from inscriptions, was surrounded with
porticoes, adorned with the most precious mosaics, divided into several
_triclinia_, surmounted by a tower which was considered one of the most
magnificent of the king's buildings, and surrounded with pleasant and
fruitful gardens, planted on ground which had been reclaimed from the
morass.[125] But practically almost all the monuments of the
Ostrogothic hero except his tomb and the three churches already
described, have vanished from Ravenna. Would that we could have seen the
great mosaic which once adorned the pediment of his palace. There
Theodoric stood, clad in mail, with spear and shield. On his left was a
female figure representing the City of Rome, also with a spear in her
hand and her head armed with a helmet, while towards his right Ravenna
seemed speeding with one foot on the land and the other on the sea. How
this great mosaic perished is not made clear to us. But there was also
an equestrian statue of Theodoric raised on a pyramid six cubits high.
Horse and rider were both of brass, "covered with yellow gold", and the
king here too had his buckler on his left arm, while the right,
extended, pointed a lance at an invisible foe.

[Footnote 123: Gally Knight ("Ecclesiastical Architecture of Italy", i.,
7) seems to accept it without hesitation as belonging to the age of
Theodoric. Freeman ("Historical, etc., Sketches", p. 47) expresses
considerable doubt: "The works of Theodoric are Roman; this palace is
not Roman but Romanesque, though undoubtedly a very early form of
Romanesque".]

[Footnote 124: Agnellus and others, as quoted by Corrado Ricci, "Ravenna
ei suoi Dintorni", p. 139. I cannot verify all Ricci's quotations, but
take the result of them on his authority.]

[Footnote 125: An inscription quoted by Ricci tells us this:

    REX THEODORICUVS FAVENTE
    DEO ET BELLO GLORIOSVS ET OTIO.
    FABRICIIS SVIS AMŒNA CONIVINGENS
    STERILI PALVDE SICCATA
    HOS HORTOS SVAVI POMORVM
    FŒCVNDITATE DITAVIT.]

This statue was carried off from Ravenna, probably by the Frankish
Emperor Charles, to adorn his capital at Aachen, and it was still to be
seen there when Agnellus wrote his ecclesiastical history of Ravenna,
three hundred years after the death of Theodoric.

[Illustration: COIN OF THE GOTHIC KINGDOM IN ITALY.]

[Illustration]




                            CHAPTER XIII.


                              BOËTHIUS,

Clouds in the horizon--Anxiety as to the succession--Death of Eutharic,
son-in-law of Theodoric--His son Athalaric proclaimed as Theodoric's
heir--Pope and Emperor reconciled--Anti-Jewish riot at Ravenna--Strained
relations of Theodoric and his Catholic subjects--Leaders of the Roman
party--Boëthius and Symmachus--Break-down of the Arian leagues--Cyprian
accuses Albinus of treason--Boëthius, interposing, is included in the
charge--His trial, condemnation, and death--The "Consolation of
Philosophy".


Hithero the career of Theodoric has been one of almost unbroken
prosperity, and the reader who has followed his history has perhaps
grown somewhat weary of the monotonous repetition of the praises of his
mildness and his equity. Unfortunately he will be thus wearied no
longer. The sun of the great Ostrogoth set in sorrow, and what was worse
than in sorrow, in deeds of hasty wrath and cruel injustice, which lost
him the hearts of the majority of his subjects and which have dimmed his
fair fame with posterity.

Many causes combined to sadden and depress the king's heart, as he felt
old age creeping upon him. Providence had not blessed him with a son;
and while his younger rival, Clovis, left four martial sons to defend
(and also to partition) his newly formed kingdom, Theodoric's daughter
Amalasuentha was the only child born of his marriage with Clovis'
sister.

In order to provide himself with a male heir (for the customs of the
Goths did not favour, if they did not actually exclude, female
sovereignty), Theodoric summoned to his court a distant relative, a
young man named Eutharic, descended from the mighty Hermanric, who was
at the time living in Spain. Eutharic, who was well reported of for
bodily vigour and for statesmanlike ability, came to the Ostrogothic
court, married Amalasuentha (515), four years afterwards received the
honour of a consulship, which he held along with the Emperor Justin, and
exhibited games and combats of wild beasts to the populace of Rome and
Ravenna on a scale of unsurpassed magnificence. But he died, probably
soon after his consulship, leaving two children--a boy and a girl,--and
thus Theodoric's hope of bequeathing his crown to a mature and masculine
heir was disappointed. Still, however, he would not propose a female
ruler to his old Gothic comrades; and the little grandson, Athalaric,
though under ten years of age, was solemnly presented by him to an
assembly of Gothic counts and the nobles of the nation as their king.

The proclamation of Athalaric was made when the king felt that he should
shortly depart this life, probably in the summer of 526. I have
mentioned it here in order to complete my statement as to the succession
to the throne, but we will now return to an earlier period-to the events
which immediately followed Eutharic's consulship. Coming as he did from
Spain, the Visigothic lords of which were still an aristocracy of bitter
Arians in the midst of a cowed but Catholic Roman population, Eutharic,
who, as we are expressly told, "was too harsh and hostile to the
Catholic faith", may have to some extent swayed the mind of his
father-in-law away from its calm balance of even-handed justice between
the rival Churches. But the state of affairs at Constantinople exercised
a yet more powerful influence. Anastasius, who, though no Arian, had
during his long reign been always in an attitude of hostility towards
the Papal See, was now dead, and had been succeeded by Justin. This man,
a soldier of fortune, who had as a lad tramped down from the Macedonian
highlands into the capital, with a wallet of biscuit over his shoulder
for his only property, had risen, by his soldierly qualities, to the
position of Count of the Guardsmen, and by a judicious distribution of
gold among the soldiers--gold which was not his own, but had been
entrusted to him for safe-keeping,--he won for himself the diadem, and
for his nephew,[126] as it turned out, the opportunity of making his
name forever memorable in history. Justin was absolutely
illiterate--the story about the stencilled signature is told of him as
well as of Theodoric,--but he was strictly orthodox, and his heart was
set on a reconciliation with the Roman See. This measure was also viewed
with favour by the majority of the populace of Constantinople, with whom
the heterodoxy of Anastasius had become decidedly unpopular. Thus the
negotiations for a settlement of the dispute went prosperously forward.
The anathemas which were insisted upon by the Roman pontiff were soon
conceded, the names of Zeno, of Anastasius, and of five Patriarchs of
Constantinople who had dared to dissent from the Roman See were struck
out of the "Diptychs" (or lists of those men, living or dead, whom the
Church regarded as belonging to her communion); and thus the first great
schism between the Eastern and Western Churches--a schism which had
lasted for thirty-five years--was ended.

[Footnote 126: Justinian.]

It was probably foreseen by the statesmen of Ravenna that this
reconciliation between Pope and Emperor, a reconciliation which had been
celebrated by the enthusiastic shout of the multitude in the great
church of the Divine Wisdom at Constantinople, would sooner or later
bring trouble to Theodoric's Arian fellow-worshippers. In point of fact,
however, an interval of nearly six years elapsed before any actual
persecution of the Arians of the Empire was attempted. The first cause
of alienation between the Ostrogothic king and his Catholic subjects
seems to have arisen in connection with the Jews. Theodoric, on account
of some fear of invasion by the barbarians beyond the Alps, was
dwelling at Verona. That city, the scene of his most desperate battle
with Odovacar, commanding as it does the valley of the Adige and the
road by the Brenner Pass into the Tyrol, was probably looked upon by
Theodoric as the key of north-eastern Italy, and when there was any
danger of invasion he preferred to hold his court there rather than in
the safer but less convenient Ravenna. There too he may probably have
often received the ambassadors of the Northern nations, who went back to
their homes with those stories of the might and majesty of the
Ostrogothic king which made "Dietrich of Bern" (Theodoric of Verona) a
name of wonder and a theme of romance to many generations of German
minstrels. While Theodoric was dwelling in the city of the Adige,
tidings came to him, apparently from his son-in-law Eutharic, whom he
had left in charge at Ravenna, that the whole city was in an uproar. The
Jews, of whom there was evidently a considerable number, were accused of
having made sport of the Christian rite of baptism by throwing one
another into one of the two muddy rivers of Ravenna, and also, in some
way not described to us, to have mocked at the supper of the Lord.[127]
The Christian populace of the city were excited to such madness by these
rumours that they broke out into rioting, which neither the Gothic
vicegerent, Eutharic, nor their own bishop, Peter III., was able to
quell, and which did not cease till all the Jewish synagogues of the
city were laid in ashes.

[Footnote 127: The passage of the "Anonymus Valesii" which describes
these events is so corrupt that it is hardly possible to make sense of
it.]

When tidings of these events were brought to Verona by the Grand
Chamberlain Triwan (or Trigguilla) who, as an Arian, was suspected of
favouring the Jews, and when the Hebrews came themselves to invoke the
justice of the King, Theodoric's righteous indignation was kindled
against these flagrant violations of _civilitas_. It was not, indeed,
the first time that his intervention had been claimed on behalf of the
persecuted children of Israel. At Milan and at Genoa they had already
appealed to him against the vexations of their neighbours, and at Rome
the mob, excited by some idle story of harsh punishments inflicted by
the Jews on their Christian servants, had burned their synagogue in the
Trastevere to the ground. The protection claimed had always been freely
conceded. Theodoric, while expressing or permitting Cassiodorus to
express his pious wonder that a race which wilfully shut itself out from
the eternal rest of Heaven should care for quietness on earth, was
strong in declaring that for the sake of _civilitas_ justice was to be
secured even for the wanderers from the right religious path, and that
no one should be forced to believe in Christianity against his will. Nor
was this willingness to protect the Jews from popular fanaticism
peculiar to Theodoric. Always, so long as the Goths, either the Western
or Eastern branch, remained Arian, the Jews found favour in their eyes,
and Jacob had rest under the shadow of the sons of Odin. Now, therefore,
the king sent an edict addressed to Eutharic and Bishop Peter, ordaining
that a pecuniary contribution should be levied on all the Christian
citizens of Ravenna, out of which the synagogues should be rebuilt, and
that those who were not able to pay their share of this contribution
should be flogged through the streets, the crier going behind them and
in a loud voice proclaiming their offence. The order was doubtless
obeyed, but from that day there was a secret spirit of rebellion in the
hearts of the Roman citizens of Ravenna.

From this time onward occasions of difference between Theodoric and his
Roman subjects were frequently arising. For some reason which is not
explained to us, he ordered the Catholic church of St. Stephen in the
suburbs of Verona to be destroyed. Then came suspicion, the child of
rancour. An order was put forth forbidding the inhabitants of Roman
origin to wear any arms, and this prohibition extended even to
pocket-knives. In the excited state of men's minds earth and heaven
seemed to them to be full of portents..There were earthquakes; there was
a comet with a fiery tail which blazed for fifteen days; a poor Gothic
woman lay down under a portico near Theodoric's palace at Ravenna and
gave birth (so we are assured) to four dragons, two of which, having one
head between them, were captured, while the other two, sailing away
eastward through the clouds, were seen to fall headlong into the sea.

More important than these old wives' fables was the changed attitude and
the wavering loyalty of the Roman Senate. From the remarks made in an
earlier chapter,[128] it will be clear that a conscientious Roman
citizen might truly feel that he owed a divided allegiance to the
Ostrogoth, his ruler _de facto_, and to the Augustus at Constantinople,
his sovereign _de jure_. Through the years of religious schism this
conflict of duties had slumbered, but now, with the enthusiastic
reconciliation between the see of Rome and the throne of Constantinople,
it awoke; and in that age when, as has been already said, religion was
nationality, an orthodox Eastern emperor seemed a much more fitting
object of homage than an Arian Italian king.

[Footnote 128: See p. 155.]

There were two men, united by the ties of kindred, who seemed marked out
by character and position as the leaders of a patriotic party in the
Senate, if such a party could be formed. These men were Boëthius and his
father-in-law Symmachus, both Roman nobles of the great and ancient
Anician _gens_. Boëthius, whose name we have already met with as the
skilful mechanic who was requested to construct a water-clock and a
sun-dial for the king of the Burgundians, was a man of great and varied
accomplishments--philosopher, theologian, musician, and mathematician.
He had translated thirty books of Aristotle into Latin for the benefit
of his countrymen; his treatise on Music was for many centuries the
authoritative exposition of the science of harmony. He had held the high
honour of the consulship in 510; twelve years later he had the yet
higher honour of seeing his two sons, Symmachus and Boëthius, though
mere lads, arrayed in the _trabea_ of the consul.

Symmachus the other leader of the patriotic party in the Roman Senate
had memories of illustrious ancestors behind him. A century before,
another Symmachus had been the standard-bearer of the old Pagan party,
and had delivered two great orations in order to prevent the Christian
Emperors from removing the venerable Altar of Victory from the
Senate-house. Now, his descendant and namesake was an equally firm
adherent of Christianity, a friend and counsellor of Popes, a man who
was willing to encounter obloquy and even death in behalf of Nicene
orthodoxy. He had been consul so long ago as in the reign of Odovacar,
he had been an "Illustrious" Prefect of the City under Theodoric; he was
now Patrician and Chief of the Senate (Caput Senatus). The last two
titles conferred honour rather than power; the headship of the Senate
especially being generally held by the oldest, and if not by the oldest,
by the most esteemed and venerated member of that body. Such was
Symmachus, a man full of years and honours, a historian, an orator, and
a generous contributor of some portion of his vast wealth for the
adornment of his native city.

Boëthius, left an orphan in childhood, had enjoyed the wise training of
his guardian Symmachus. When he came to man's estate he married that
guardian's daughter Rusticiana. Though there was the difference of a
generation between them, a close friendship united the old and the
middle-aged senators, and the young consuls sprung from this alliance,
who were the hope of their blended lines, bore, as we have seen, the
names of both father and grandfather.

Up to the year 523, Boëthius appears to have enjoyed to the full the
favour of Theodoric. From a chapter of his autobiography[129] we learn
that he had already often opposed the ministers of the crown when he
found them to be unjust and rapacious men. "How often" says he, "have I
met the rush of Cunigast, when coming open-mouthed to devour the
substance of the poor! How often have I baffled the all but completed
schemes of injustice prepared by the chamberlain Trigguilla! How often
have I interposed my influence to protect the unhappy men whom the
unpunished avarice of the barbarians was worrying with infinite
calumnies! Paulinus, a man of consular rank, whose wealth the hungry
dogs of the palace had already devoured in fancy, I dragged as it were
out of their very jaws". But all these acts of righteous remonstrance
against official tyranny, though from the names given they seem to have
been chiefly directed against Gothic ministers, had not forfeited for
Boëthius the favour of his sovereign. The proof of this is furnished by
the almost unexampled honour conferred upon him--certainly with
Theodoric's consent--by the elevation of his two sons to the consulship.
The exultant father, from his place in the Senate, expressed his thanks
to Theodoric in an oration of panegyric, which is now no longer extant,
but was considered by contemporaries a masterpiece of brilliant
rhetoric.

[Footnote 129: Contained in the "Consolation of Philosophy".]

So far all had gone well with the fortunes of Boëthius; but now, perhaps
about the middle of 523, there came a great and calamitous change. We
must revert for a few minutes to the family circumstances of Theodoric,
in order to understand the influences which were embittering his spirit
against his Catholic--that is to say, his Roman--subjects. The year
before, his grandson Segeric, the Burgundian, had been treacherously
assassinated by order of his father, King Sigismund, who had become a
convert to the orthodox creed, and after the death of Theodoric's
daughter had married a Catholic woman of low origin. In the year 523
itself, Thrasamund, king of the Vandals, died and was succeeded by his
cousin Hilderic, son of one of the most ferocious persecutors of the
Catholic Church, but himself a convert to her creed. Notwithstanding an
oath which Hilderic had sworn to his predecessor on his death-bed, never
to use his royal power for the restoration of the churches to the
Catholics, Hilderic had recalled the Bishops of the orthodox party and
was in all things reversing the bitter persecuting policy of his
ancestors, amalafrida, the sister of Theodoric and widow of Thrasamund,
who had been for nearly twenty years queen of the Vandals, passionately
resented this undoing of her dead husband's work and put herself at the
head of a party of insurgents, who called in the aid of the Moorish
barbarians, but who were, notwithstanding that aid, defeated by the
soldiers of Hilderic at Capsa. Amalafrida herself was taken captive and
shut up in prison, probably about the middle of 523.

Thus everywhere the Arian League, of which Theodoric had been the head,
and which had practically given him the hegemony of Teutonic Europe, was
breaking down; and in its collapse disaster and violent death were
coming upon the members of Theodoric's own family. If Eutharic himself,
as seems probable, had died before this time, and was no longer at the
King's side to whisper distrust of the Catholics at every step, and to
put the worst construction on the actions of every patriotic Roman, yet
even Eutharic's death increased the difficulties of Theodoric's
position, and his doubts as to the future fortunes of a dynasty which
would be represented at his death only by a woman and a child. And these
difficulties and doubts bred in him not depression, but an irascible and
suspicious temper, which had hitherto been altogether foreign to his
calm and noble nature.

Such was the state of things at the court of Ravenna when, in the summer
or early autumn of 523, Cyprian, Reporter in the King's Court, accused
the Patrician Albinus of sending letters to the Emperor Justin hostile
to the royal rule of Theodoric. Of the character and history of Albinus,
notwithstanding his eminent station, we know but little. He was not only
Patrician, but Illustris--that is, in modern phraseology, he had held an
office of cabinet-rank. On the occasion of some quarrel between the
factions of the Circus, Theodoric had graciously ordered him to assume
the patronage of the Green Faction, and to conduct the election of a
pantomimic performer for that party. He had also received permission to
erect workshops overlooking the Forum on its northern side, on condition
that his buildings did not in any way interfere with public convenience
or the beauty of the city. Evidently he was a man of wealth and high
position, one of the great nobles of Rome, but perhaps one who, up to
this time, had not taken any very prominent part in public affairs. His
accuser, Cyprian, still apparently a young man, was also a Roman
nobleman. His father had been consul, and he himself held at this time
the post of Referendarius (or, as I have translated it, Reporter) in the
King's Court of Appeal. His ordinary duty was to ascertain from the
suitor what was the nature of his plea, to state it to the king, and
then to draw up the document, which contained the king's judgment. It
was an arduous office to ascertain from the flurried and often trembling
suitor, in the midst of the hubbub of the court, the precise nature of
his complaint, and a responsible one to express the king's judgment,
neither less nor more, in the written decree. There was evidently great
scope for corrupt conduct in both capacities, if the Referendarius was
open to bribes; and in the "Formula", by which these officers were
appointed, some stress is laid on the necessity of their keeping a pure
conscience in the exercise of their functions. Cyprian seems to have
been a man of nimble and subtle intellect, who excelled in his statement
of a case. So well was this done by him, from the two opposite points of
view, that plaintiff and defendant in turn were charmed to hear each his
own version of the case so admirably presented to the king. Of later
years, Theodoric, weary of sitting in state in the crowded hall of
justice, had often tried his cases on horseback. Riding forth into the
forest he had ordered Cyprian to accompany him, and to state in his own
lively and pleasing style the "for" and "against" of the various causes
that came before him on appeal. Even, we are told, when Theodoric was
roused to anger by the manifest injustice of the plea that was thus
presented, he could not help being charmed by the graceful manner in
which the young Referendarius, the temporary asserter of the claim,
brought it under his notice. Thus trained to subtle eloquence, Cyprian
had been recently sent on an embassy to Constantinople, and had there
shown himself in the word-fence a match for the keenest of the Greeks.
Lately returned, as it should seem, from this embassy, he came forward
in the Roman Senate and accused the Patrician Albinus of outstepping the
bounds of loyalty to the Ostrogothic King in the letters which he had
addressed to the Byzantine Emperor.

In this accusation was Cyprian acting the part of an honest man or of a
base informer? The times were difficult: the relations of a Roman
Senator to Emperor and King were, as I have striven to show, intricate
and ill-defined; it was hard for even good men to know on which side
preponderated the obligations of loyalty, of honour, and of patriotism.
On the one hand Cyprian may have been a true and faithful servant of
Theodoric, who had in his embassy at Constantinople discovered the
threads of a treasonable intrigue, and who would not see his master
betrayed even by Romans without denouncing their treason. As a real
patriot he may have seen that the days of purely Roman rule in Italy
were over, that there must be some sort of amalgamation with these new
Teutonic conquerors, who evidently had the empire of the world before
them, that it would be better and happier, and in a certain sense more
truly Roman, for Italy to be ruled by a heroic "King of the Goths and
Romans" than for her to sink into a mere province ruled by exarchs and
logothetes from corrupt and distant Constantinople. This is one possible
view of Cyprian's character and purposes. On the other hand, he may have
been a slippery adventurer, intent on carving out his own fortune by
whatever means, and willing to make the dead bodies of the noblest of
his countrymen stepping-stones of his own ambition. In his secret heart
he may have cared nothing for the noble old Goth, his master, with whom
he had so often ridden in the pine-wood; nothing, too, for the great
name of Rome, the city in which his father had once sat as consul. Long
accustomed to state both sides of a case with equal dexterity, and
without any belief in either, this nimble-tongued advocate, who had
already found that Greece had nothing to teach him that was new, may
have had in his inmost soul no belief in God, in country, or in duty,
but in Cyprian alone. Both views are possible; we have before us only
the passionate invectives of his foes and the stereotyped commendations
of his virtues penned by his official superiors, and I will not attempt
to decide between them.

When Cyprian brought his charge of disloyalty against Albinus, the
accused Patrician, who was called into the presence of the King, at once
denied the accusation. An angry debate probably followed, in the course
of which Boëthius claimed to speak The attention of all men was
naturally fixed upon him, for by the King's favour, the same favour
which in the preceding year had raised his two sons to the consulship,
he was now filling the great place of Master of the Offices.[130]
"False", said Boëthius in loud, impassioned tones, "is the accusation of
Cyprian; but whatever Albinus did, I and the whole Senate of Rome, with
one purpose, did the same. The charge is false, O King Theodoric".The
inter-position of Boëthius was due to a noble and generous impulse, but
it was not perhaps wise, in view of all that had passed, and without in
any way helping Albinus, it involved Boëthius in his ruin. Cyprian, thus
challenged, included the Master of the Offices in his accusation, and
certain persons, not Goths, but Romans and men of senatorial rank,
Opilio (the brother of Cyprian), Basilius, and Gaudentius, came forward
and laid information against Boëthius.

[Footnote 130: See p. 150.]

Here the reader will naturally ask, "Of what did these informers accuse
him?" but to that question it is not possible to give a satisfactory
answer. He himself in his meditations on his trial says: "Of what crime
is it that I am accused? I am said to have desired the safety of the
Senate. 'In what way?' you may ask. I am accused of having prevented an
informer from producing certain documents in order to prove the Senate
guilty of high treason. Shall I deny the charge? But I did wish for the
safety of the Senate and shall never cease to wish for it, nor, though
they have abandoned me, can I consider it a crime to have desired the
safety of that venerable order. That posterity may know the truth and
the real sequence of events, I have drawn up a written memorandum
concerning the whole affair. For, as for these forged letters upon which
is founded the accusation against me of having hoped for Roman freedom,
why should I say anything about them? Their falsehood would have been
made manifest, if I could have used the confession of the informers
themselves, which in all such affairs is admitted to have the greatest
weight. As for Roman freedom, what hope is left to us of attaining that?
Would that there were any such hope. Had the King questioned me, I would
have answered in the words Canius, when he was questioned by the Emperor
Caligula as to his complicity in a a conspiracy formed against him. If
I, said he, had known, thou shouldest never have known."

These words, coupled with some bitter statements as to the tainted
character of the informers against him, men oppressed by debt and
accused of peculation, constitute the only statement of his case by
Boëthius which is now available. The memorandum so carefully prepared in
the long hours of his imprisonment has not reached posterity. Would that
it might even yet be found in the library of some monastery, or lurking
as a palimpsest under the dull commentary of some mediæval divine! It
could hardly fail to throw a brilliant, if not uncoloured light on the
politics of Italy in the sixth century. But, trying as we best may to
spell out the truth of the affair from the passionate complaints of the
prisoner, I think we may discern that there had been some
correspondence on political affairs between the Senate and the Emperor
Justin, correspondence which was perfectly regular and proper if the
Emperor was still to them "Dominus Noster" (our Lord and Master), but
which was kept from the knowledge of "the King of the Goths and Romans",
and which, when he heard of it, he was sure to resent as an act of
treachery to himself. That Boëthius, the Master of the Offices under
Theodoric, should have connived at this correspondence, naturally
exasperated the master who had so lately heaped favours on this disloyal
servant. But in addition to this he used the power which he wielded as
Master of the Offices, that is, head of the whole Civil Service of
Italy, to prevent some documents which would have compromised the safety
of the Senate from coming to the knowledge of Theodoric. All this was
dangerous and doubtful work, and though we may find it hard to condemn
Boëthius, drawn as he was in opposite directions by the claims of
historic patriotism and by those of official duty, we can hardly wonder
that Theodoric, who felt his throne and his dynasty menaced, should have
judged with some severity the minister who had thus betrayed his
confidence.

The political charge against Boëthius was blended with one of another
kind, to us almost unintelligible, a charge of sacrilege and necromancy.
At least this seems to be the only possible explanation of the following
words written by him: "My accusers saw that the charge 'of desiring the
safety of the Senate' was no crime but rather a merit; and therefore, in
order to darken it by the mixture of some kind of wickedness, they
falsely declared that ambition for office had led me to pollute my
conscience with sacrilege. But Philosophy had chased from my breast all
desire of worldly greatness, and under the eyes of her who had daily
instilled into my mind the Pythagorean maxim 'Follow God,' there was no
place for sacrilege. Nor was it likely that I should seek the
guardianship of the meanest of spirits when Divine Philosophy had formed
and moulded me into the likeness of God. The friendship of my
father-in-law, the venerable Symmachus, ought alone to have shielded me
from the suspicion of such a crime. But alas! it was my very love for
Philosophy that exposed me to this accusation, and they thought that I
was of kin to sorcerers because I was steeped in philosophic teachings".

The only reasonable explanation that we can offer of these words is that
mediæval superstition was already beginning to cast her shadow over
Europe, that already great mechanical skill, such as Boëthius was
reputed to possess when his king asked him to manufacture the
water-clock and the sun-dial, caused its possessor to be suspected of
unholy familiarity with the Evil One; perhaps also that astronomy, which
was evidently the favourite study of Boëthius, was perilously near to
astrology, and that his zeal in its pursuit may have exposed him to some
of the penalties which the Theodosian code itself, the law-book of
Imperial Rome, denounced against "the mathematicians".

This seems to be all that can now be done towards re-writing the lost
indictment under which Boëthius was accused. The trial was conducted
with an outrageous disregard of the forms of justice. It took place in
the Senate-house at Rome; Boëthius was apparently languishing in prison
at Pavia, where he had been arrested along with Albinus.[131] Thus at a
distance of more than four hundred miles from his accusers and his
judges was the life of this noble Roman, unheard and undefended, sworn
away on obscure and preposterous charges by a process which was the mere
mockery of a trial. He was sentenced to death and the confiscation of
his property; and the judges whose trembling lips pronounced the
monstrous sentence were the very senators whose cause he had tried to
serve. This thought, the remembrance of this base ingratitude, planted
the sharpest sting of all in the breast of the condemned patriot. It is
evident that the Senate themselves were in desperate fear of the newly
awakened wrath of Theodoric, and the fact that they found Boëthius
guilty cannot be considered as in any degree increasing the probability
of the truth of the charges made against him. But it does perhaps
somewhat lessen his reputation for far-seeing statesmanship, since it
shows how thoroughly base and worthless was the body for whose sake he
sacrificed his loyalty to the new dynasty, how utterly unfit the Senate
would have been to take its old place as ruler of Italy, if Byzantine
Emperor and Ostrogothic King could have been blotted out of the
political firmament.

[Footnote 131: Boëthius complains thus: "Now, at a distance of nearly
five hundred miles, unheard and undefended, I have been condemned to
death and proscription for my too enthusiastic love to the Senate".
Pavia, where he seems to have been first confined, was, according to the
Antonine Itinerary, 455 Roman miles from the capital.]

Boëthius seems to have spent some months in prison after his trial, and
was perhaps transferred from Pavia to "the _ager Calventianus_", a few
miles from Milan. There at any rate he was confined when the messenger
of death sent by Theodoric found him. There is some doubt as to the mode
of execution adopted. One pretty good contemporary authority says that
he was beheaded, but the writer whom I have chiefly followed, who was
almost a contemporary, but a credulous one, says that torture was
applied, that a cord was twisted round his forehead till his eyes
started from their sockets, and that finally in the midst of his
torments he received the _coup de grâce_ from a club.

In the interval which elapsed between the condemnation and the death of
this noble man, who died verily as a martyr for the great memories of
Rome, he had time to compose a book which exercised a powerful influence
on many of the most heroic spirits of the Middle Ages. This book, the
well-known, if not now often read, "Consolation of Philosophy", was
translated into English by King Alfred and by Geoffrey Chaucer, was
imitated by Sir Thomas More (whose history in some respects resembles
that of Boëthius), and was translated into every tongue and found in
every convent library of mediæval Europe. There is a great charm, the
charm of sadness, about many of its pages, and it may be considered from
one point of view as the swan's song of the dying Roman world and the
dying Greek philosophy, or from another, as the Book of Job of the new
mediæval world which was to be born from the death of Rome. For like the
Book of Job, the "Consolation" is chiefly occupied with a discussion of
the eternal mystery why a Righteous and Almighty Ruler of the world
permits bad men to flourish and increase, while the righteous are
crushed beneath their feet: and, as in the Book of Job, so here, the
question is not, probably because it cannot be, fully answered.

It is the consolation of philosophy, not of religion, or at any rate not
of revealed religion, which is here administered. So marked is the
silence of Boëthius on all those arguments, which a discussion of this
kind inevitably suggests to the mind of a believer in the Crucified One,
that scholars long supposed that he was not even by profession a
Christian. A manuscript which has been lately discovered[132] seems to
prove beyond a doubt that Boëthius was a Christian, and wrote orthodox
treatises on disputed points of theology; but for some reason or other
he fell back on his early philosophical studies, rather than on his
formal and conventional Christianity, when he found himself in the deep
waters of adversity and imminent death. He represents himself in the
"Consolation" as lying on his dungeon-couch, sick in body and sad at
heart, and courting the Muses as companions of his solitude. They come
at his call, but are soon unceremoniously dismissed by one nobler than
themselves, who asserts an older and higher right to cheer her votary
in the day of his calamity. This is Philosophy, a woman of majestic
stature, whose head seems to touch the skies, and who has undying youth
and venerable age mysteriously blended in her countenance. Having
dismissed the Muses, she sits by the bedside of Boëthius and looks with
sad and earnest eyes into his face. She invites him to pour out his
complaints; she sings to him songs first of pity and reproof, then of
fortitude and hope; she reasons with him as to the instability of the
gifts of Fortune, and strives to lead him to the contemplation of the
_Summum Bonum_, which is God Himself, the knowledge of whom is the
highest happiness. Then, in order a little to lighten his difficulties
as to the permission of evil by the All-wise and Almighty One, she
enters into a discussion of the relation between Divine Foreknowledge
and Human Free-will, but this discussion, a thorny and difficult one, is
not ended when the book comes to an abrupt conclusion, being probably
interrupted by the arrival of the messengers of Theodoric, who brought
the warrant for the writer's execution.

[Footnote 132: Called the "Anecdoton Holderi", from the German scholar
who has edited it.]

The "Consolation of Philosophy" is partly in prose, partly in verse. The
prose is generally strong, clear, and comparatively pure in style,
wonderfully superior to the vapid diffusiveness of Cassiodorus and most
writers of the age. The interspersed poems are sometimes in hexameters,
but more often in the shorter lines and more varied metres of Horace,
and are to some extent founded upon the tragic choruses of Seneca. It is
of course impossible in this place to give any adequate account of so
important a work and one of such far-reaching influence as the
"Consolation" but the following translation of one of the poems in which
the prisoner makes his moan to the Almighty may give the reader some
little idea of the style and matter of the treatise.

THE HARMONY OF THE NATURAL WORLD: THE DISCORD OF THE MORAL WORLD.

    Oh Thou who hast made this starry Whole,
      Who hast fixed on high Thy throne;
    Who biddest the Blue above us roll,
      And whose sway the planets own!

    At Thy bidding she turns, the changing Moon
      To her Brother her full-fed fire,
    Dimming the Stars with her light, which soon
      Wanes, as she draws to him nigher.

    Thou givest the word, and the westering Star,
      The Hesper who watched o'er Night's upspringing,
    Changing his course, shines eastward far,
      Phosphor now, for the Sun's inbringing.

    When the leaves fall fast, 'neath Autumn's blast,
      Thou shortenest the reign of light.
    In radiant June Thou scatterest soon
      The fast-flown hours of night.

    The leaves which fled from the cruel North
      Are with Zephyr's breath returning,
    And from seeds which the Bear saw dropped in earth
      Springs the corn for the Dog-star's burning.

    Thus all stands fast by Thine old decree,
      Nothing wavers in Nature's plan:
    In all her changes she bows to Thee:
      Yea, all stands fast but Man.

    Oh! why is the wheel of Fortune rolled,
      While guilt Thy vengeance shuns?
    Why sit the bad on their thrones of gold,
      And trample Thine holy ones?

    Why doth Virtue skulk where none may see
      In the great world's corners dim?
    And the just man mark the knave go free,
      While the penalty falls on him?

    No storm the perjurer's soul o'erwhelms,
      Serene the false one stands:
    He flatters, and Kings of mighty realms
      Are as clay in his moulding hands.

    Oh Ruler! look on these lives of ours,
      Thus dashed on Fortune's sea.
    Thou rulest the calm eternal Powers,
      But thine handiwork, too, are we.

    Ah! quell these waves with their tossings high;
      Let them own Thy bound and ban:
    And as Thou rulest the starry sky
      Rule also the world of Man!

[Illustration: COPPER PIECE OF ATHALARIC. TEN NUMMI.
(HEAD OF JUSTINIAN--?)]

[Illustration]




                             CHAPTER XIV.


                           HEODORIC'S TOMB.

Embassy of Pope John to Constantinople--His imprisonment and
death--Execution of Symmachus--Opportune death of Theodoric--Various
stones respecting it--His mausoleum--Ultimate fate of his remains.


The death of Boëthius[133] occurred probably about the middle of 524,
and in the same year, as it would seem, Theodoric left Verona and
returned to his old quarters at Ravenna. The danger from the barbarians
on the northern frontier had apparently been averted, but a far greater
danger, the hatred and the terror of his subjects of Roman origin, had
entered his kingdom. It was probably during this same year 524 that the
zeal of the orthodox Emperor Justin began to flame out against the
Arians. Their churches were taken from them and given to the Catholics,
and, as we hear that several Arians at this time embraced the Catholic
faith, we may conjecture that the usual methods of conversion in that
age, confiscation, imprisonment, and possibly torture, had been pretty
freely employed. These measures, coming close after the alleged
conspiracy of the Senators, or perhaps simultaneously with it, completed
the exasperation of Theodoric, He sent for the Pope, John I., a Tuscan,
who had been lately elevated to the Papal chair, and when the successor
of St. Peter appeared at Ravenna commanded him, with some haughtiness in
his tone, to proceed to Constantinople, to the Emperor Justin, and tell
him that "he must in no wise attempt to win over those whom he calls
heretics to the Catholic religion". The Pope is said to have made some
protestations, distinguishing between his duty to God and his duty to
his king, but nevertheless accepted a commission of some kind or other
to treat with the Emperor on the subject of mutual toleration between
Catholics and Arians.

[Footnote 133: Possibly of Albinus also, but he disappears from the
story, according to the tantalising manner of the annalists from whom we
get our information.]

(525) He set forth at the head of a brilliant train, accompanied by
Ecclesius, Bishop of Ravenna, and Eusebius, Bishop of Fano, by Senator
Theodorus, who had been consul in 505, by Senator Importunus, consul in
509, who was descended from the historic family of the Decii, and from
whom his coevals expected deeds worthy of that illustrious name, by
Senator Agapetus, who had been consul along with the Eastern Emperor in
517, and by many other noblemen and bishops.

The visit of a pope to Constantinople, an event which had not occurred
since the very earliest days of the new capital, created profound
sensation in that city and was the very thing to cement that union
between the Papacy and the Empire which constituted Theodoric's greatest
danger. The whole city poured forth with crosses and candles to meet the
Pope and his companions at the twelfth milestone, and to testify with
shouts their veneration for the Apostles Peter and Paul, whose
representative they deemed that they saw before them. "Justinus
Augustus", the fortunate farm-lad, before whom in his old age all the
great ones of the earth prostrated themselves in reverence, now saluted
the Vicar of St. Peter with the same gestures of adoration. The
coronation of the Emperor, who had already been for six years on the
throne, was celebrated with the utmost magnificence, the Roman Pontiff
himself placing the diadem on his head. Then the Pope and all the
Senators with tears besought the Emperor that their embassy might be
acceptable in his sight. In the private interviews which were held, the
Pope probably hinted to his orthodox ally the dangers which might result
to the Catholic cause in Italy, if Theodoric, hitherto so tolerant a
heretic, should be provoked to measures of retaliation on behalf of his
Church. There does seem to have been some modification of the
persecuting edicts against the Arians, and at least some restoration of
churches to the heretics, though certain Papal historians, unwilling to
admit that a pope can have pleaded for any concession to misbelievers,
endeavour to represent the Pope's mission as fruitless, while the Pope's
person was greeted with enthusiastic reverence. But that which is upon
the whole our best authority declares that "the Emperor Justin having
met the Pope on his arrival as if he were St. Peter himself, and having
heard his message, promised that he would comply with all his demands
except that the converts who had given themselves to the Catholic faith
could by no means be restored to the Arians".

This last exception does not seem an unreasonable one. Surely Theodoric
could hardly have expected that Justin would exert his Imperial power in
order to force any of his subjects back into what he deemed a deadly
heresy. But for some cause or other, probably because he perceived the
mistake which he had committed in giving to the world so striking a
demonstration of the new alliance between Emperor and Pope, Theodoric's
ambassadors, on their return to Ravenna, found their master in a state
of wrath bordering on frenzy. All, both Pope and Senators, were cast
into prison and there treated with harshness and cruelty. The Pope, who
was probably an aged and delicate man, began to languish in his dungeon,
and there he died on the 25th of May, 526.

In the meantime, while the Papal embassy had been absent on its mission
to Constantinople, Theodoric had perpetrated another crime under the
influence of his maddening suspicions. Symmachus, father-in-law of
Boëthius, the venerable head of the Senate, a man of saintly life and
far advanced in years, had probably dared to show that he condemned as
well as lamented the execution of his brilliant son-in-law. Against him,
therefore, a charge, doubtless of treason, was brought by command of the
king. To be accused was of course to be condemned, and Symmachus was put
to death in one of the prisons at Ravenna.

After the deaths of these three men, Boëthius, Symmachus, and Pope John,
all chance of peace between Theodoric and his subjects, and what was
worse, all chance of peace between Theodoric and his nobler and truer
self was over, and there was nothing left him but to die in misery and
remorse. It was probably in these summer days of 526 that (as before
stated) he presented his young grandson Athalaric to his faithful Goths
as their king. An edict was issued--and the faithful groaned when they
saw that it bore the counter-signature of a Jewish Treasury-clerk--that
on Sunday the 30th of August all the Catholic churches of Italy should
be handed over to the Arians. But this tremendous religious revolution
was not to be accomplished, nor was an insurrection of the Catholics to
be required in order to arrest it. The edict was published on Wednesday
the 26th of August. On the following day the King was attacked by
diarrœa, and after three days of violent pain he died on the 30th of
August, the very day on which the churches were to have been handed over
to the heretics and ninety-seven days after the death of the Pope.[134]

[Footnote 134: The disease and death, of Theodoric are thus described by
the chief contemporary authority, the "Anonymous Valesii": "Sed qui non
patitur fideles cultores suos ab alienigenis opprimi, mox intulit in eum
sententiam Arrii, auctoris religionis ejus: fluxum ventris incurrit, et
dum intra triduo evacuatus fuisset, eodem die, quo se gaudebat ecclesias
invadere, simul regnum et animam amisit".]

There is certainly something in this account of Theodoric's death which
suggests the idea of arsenical poisoning. No hint of this kind is given
by any of the annalists, but they are all hostile to Theodoric and
disposed to see in his rapid illness and most opportune death a Divine
judgment for his meditated persecution of the Church. On the other hand
it is impossible to read the account of his strange incoherent deeds and
words during the last three years of his life, without suspecting that
his brain was diseased and that he was not fully responsible for his
actions. As bearing on this question it is worth while to quote the
story of his death given by a Greek historian[135] who wrote twenty-four
years after his death. It is, perhaps, only an idle tale, but it shows
the kind of stories which were current among the citizens of Ravenna as
to the last days of their great king. "When Theodoric was dining, a few
days after the death of Symmachus and Boëthius,[136] the servants placed
on the table a large fish's head. This seemed to Theodoric to be the
head of Symmachus, newly slain. The teeth seemed to gnaw the lower lip,
the eyes glared at him with wrath and frenzy, the dead man appeared, to
threaten him with utmost vengeance. Terrified by this amazing portent
and chilled to the bone with fear, he hastily sought his couch, where,
having ordered the servants to pile bed-clothes upon him, he slept
awhile. Then sending for Elpidius, the physician, he related all that
had happened to him, and wept for his sins against Symmachus and
Boëthius. And with these tears and with bitter lamentations for the
tragedy in which he had taken part, he soon afterwards died, this being
the first and last injustice which he had committed against any of his
subjects. And it proceeded from his not carefully sifting, as he was
wont to do, the evidence on which a capital charge was grounded".

[Footnote 135: Procopius. He was present with Belisarius in Ravenna in
540, and wrote his history of the Gothic war (first three books)
probably in 550.]

[Footnote 136: This is, of course, an error. Theodoric's death was about
two years after that of Boëthius, and many months after that of
Symmachus.]

This story of Procopius, if it have any foundation at all, seems to show
that Theodoric's last days were passed in delirium, and might suggest a
doubt whether in the heart-break of these later years he had not
endeavoured to drown his sorrows in wine. But it is interesting to see
that the Greek historian, though writing from a somewhat hostile point
of view, recognises emphatically the justice of Theodoric's ordinary
administration, and considers the execution of Symmachus and Boëthius
(we ought to add the imprisonment of the Pope and his co-ambassadors) as
the one tyrannical series of acts which marred the otherwise fair fame
of a patriot-king.

The tomb of Theodoric still stands, a noble monument of the art of the
sixth century, outside the walls of the north-east corner of Ravenna.
This edifice, which belongs to the same class of sepulchral buildings
as the tomb of Hadrian (now better known as the Castle of S. Angelo), is
built of squared marble stones, and consists of two storeys, the lower
one a decagon, the upper one circular. The roof is composed of one
enormous block of Istrian marble 33 feet in diameter, 3 feet in height,
and weighing, it is said, nearly 300 tons. It is a marvel and a mystery
how, with the comparatively rude engineering appliances of that age, so
ponderous a mass can have been transported from such a distance and
raised to such a height.[137] At equal intervals round the outside of
this shallow, dome-like roof, twelve stone brackets are attached to it.
They are now marked with the names of eight Apostles and of the four
Evangelists. One conjecture as to their destination is that they were
originally crowned with statues, perhaps of these Apostles and
Evangelists; another, to me not very probable, is, that the ropes used
(if any were used) in lifting the mighty monolith to its place were
passed through these, which would thus be the handles of the dome.

[Footnote 137: The mausoleum of Theodoric was a work that excited the
admiration of his contemporaries. The "Anonymous Valesii" writes "Se
autem vivo fecit sibi monumentum ex lapide quadrato, miræ magnitudinis
opus, et saxum ingens quod superponeret inquisivit".]

This mausoleum, which is generally called _La Rotonda_ by the citizens
of Ravenna, was used in the Middle Ages as the choir of the Church of S.
Maria della Rotonda, and divine service was celebrated in it by the
monks of an adjoining monastery. It is now a "public monument" and there
are few traces left of its ecclesiastical employment. The basement, as
I have seen it, is often filled with water, exuding from the marshy
soil: the upper storey is abandoned to gloom and silence.

Of Theodoric himself, whose body, according to tradition, was once
deposited in a porphyry vase in the upper storey of the mausoleum, there
is now no vestige in the great pile which in his own life-time he raised
as his intended sepulchre. Nor is this any recent spoliation. Agnellus,
Bishop of Ravenna, writing in the days of Charlemagne, says that the
body of Theodoric was not in the mausoleum, and had been, as he thought,
cast forth out of its sepulchre,[138] and the wonderful porphyry vase in
which it had been enclosed placed at the door of the neighbouring
monastery. A recent enquirer[139] has connected these somewhat ambiguous
words of Agnellus with a childish story told by Pope Gregory the Great,
who wrote some seventy years after the death of Theodoric. According to
this story, a holy hermit, who lived in the island of Lipari, on the day
and hour of Theodoric's death saw him, with bound hands and garments
disarranged, dragged up the volcano of Stromboli by his two victims
Symmachus and Pope John, and hurled by them into the fire-vomiting
crater. What more likely, it is suggested, than that the monks of the
adjoining monastery should seize the opportunity of some crisis in the
troubled history of Ravenna to cast out the body of Theodoric from its
resting-place, and so, to the ignorant people, give point to Pope
Gregory's edifying narrative as to the disposal of his soul?

[Footnote 138: "Sed ut mihi videtur, ex sepulcro projectus est, et ipsa
urna, ubi jacuit, ex lapide pirfiretico valde mirabilis ante ipsius
monasterii aditum posita est".]

[Footnote 139: Corrado Ricci, "Della Corazzo d'Oro", in "Cronologio
Ravennate", 1879.]

A discovery, which was made some forty years ago in the neighbourhood of
Ravenna, may possibly throw some light on these mysterious words of
Bishop Agnellus: "As it seems to me, he was cast forth out of his
sepulchre". In May, 1854, the labourers employed in widening the bed of
the Canale Corsini (now the only navigable water-way between Ravenna and
the sea) came, at the depth of about five feet beneath the sea-level, on
some tumuli, evidently sepulchral in their character, made of bricks
laid edgeways. Near one of these tumuli, but lying apart by itself, was
a golden cuirass adorned with precious stones. The rascally labourers,
when they caught sight of their treasure, feigned to see nothing,
promptly covered it up again, and returned at nightfall to divide the
spoil. A little piece of gold which was found lying on the ground caused
enquiries to be set on foot; the labourers were arrested, but
unfortunately the greater part of the booty had already been cast into
the melting-pot. A few pieces were, however, recovered, and are now in
the museum at Ravenna, where they figure in the catalogue as part of the
armour of Odovacar. This is, however, a mere conjecture, and another, at
least equally probable conjecture, is that the cuirass of gold once
covered the breast of Theodoric. The spot where it was found is about
one hundred and fifty yards from the Rotonda, and if the monks had for
any reason decided to pillage the sepulchre of its precious deposit,
this was a not improbable place where they might hide it for a time.
Certainly the self-denial which they showed in not stripping the body of
its costly covering is somewhat surprising, but possibly the
conspirators were few in number and the chances of war may have removed
them, before they had an opportunity to disinter the body a second time
and strip it of its cuirass, which moreover could not have been easily
disposed of without exciting suspicion.

One little circumstance which seems somewhat to confirm this theory, is
the fact that there is an enrichment[140] running round the border of
the cuirass very similar in character to a decoration of the cornice in
Theodoric's tomb.

[Footnote 140: A "meandro", as it is called by Ricci.]

Whether this theory be correct or not, the indignity which was certainly
at some time offered to the mortal remains of the great Ostrogothic king
reminds us of the similar insults offered to the body of the great
Puritan Protector, Cromwell, like Theodoric, was carried to his grave
with all the conventional demonstrations of national mourning. He was
dragged from it again and cast out "like an abominable branch" when the
legitimate monarchy was restored, when "Church and King" were again in
the ascendant, and when the stout soldiers, who had made him in all but
the name king _de facto_, were obliged to bow their heads beneath the
recovered might of the king _de jure_.

[Illustration]




                              CHAPTER XV.


                             AMALASUENTHA.

Accession of the Emperor Justinian--His place in history--Overthrow of
the Vandal kingdom in Africa by Belisarius--Battles of Ad Decimum and
Tricamaron--Belisarius' triumph--Fall of the Burgundian kingdom--Death
of Amalaric, king of Spain--Amalasuentha's troubles with her subjects as
to her son's education--Secret negotiations with Justinian--Death of
Athalaric--Theodahad made partner in the throne--Murder of
Amalasuentha--Justinian declares war.


[Illustration: O]

Our special subject, the life of Theodoric, is ended, but so closely was
the king identified with the people that the narration can hardly close
without a sketch of the fortunes of the Ostrogothic nation during the
generation which followed his death. I shall not attempt any detailed
history of this period, but shall draw merely its broadest outlines.

Notwithstanding the melancholy and apparently threatening circumstances
which attended the death of Theodoric, his descendants succeeded to his
power without a contest. In Spain, his grandson, Amalaric, who had
probably by this time attained his majority, was hailed as king of the
Visigoths. In Italy, Athalaric, now barely ten years old, became the
nominal ruler, the real powers being exercised by his widowed mother,
Amalasuentha, who was guided more implicitly than her father had been by
the counsel of Cassiodorus, and availed herself of his fertile pen for
the proclamations in which she addressed the subjects of her son. In
writing to the Roman Senate, Cassiodorus made his child-sovereign
enlarge on the felicity of the country in which the accession of a new
ruler could take place without war or sedition or loss of any kind to
the republic. "On account of the unsurpassed glory of the Amal race, the
promise of my youth has been preferred to the merits of all others. The
chiefs, glorious in council and in war, have flocked to recognise me as
King, so gladly that it seems like a Divine inspiration, and the kingdom
has been changed as one changes a garment. The general consent of Goths
and Romans has crowned one King, and they have confirmed their
allegiance by an oath. You, though distant from my person, are as near
to me in heart as they, and I therefore call on you to follow their
example. We all know that the most excellent fathers of the Senate love
their King more fervently than other ranks of the State, in proportion
to the greater benefits which they have received at his hand".

To the Senators, who had witnessed the denunciation of Albinus, and who
had been compelled with anguish of heart to vote the condemnation of
Boëthius, this allusion to the great benefits which they had received
from their Gothic sovereign might seem almost like mockery: yet there
can be little doubt that the Senate did hail the accession of Athalaric
with acclamations, and that Amalasuentha's administration of affairs was
popular with the Roman inhabitants of Italy. It might well be so, for
this princess, born under an Italian sky, and accustomed from her
childhood to gaze upon the great works which Rome had constructed for
the embellishment of the peninsula, was no Goth at heart, but
enthusiastically, even unwisely, Roman. In religious matters we are
almost surprised to find that she adhered to the Arian creed of her
father and her husband, but all talk of persecution of the Catholics
ceased, and no more was heard of the enforced cession of their churches
to the Arians. And in everything else but religion the sympathies of the
new ruler were entirely on the side of the subject, not the dominant,
nationality. As it had been said of old that "Captive Greece subdued her
conquerors", so now was it with subject Italy and its Gothic mistress. A
diligent student of Greek as well as of Latin literature, able to
discourse with the ambassadors of Constantinople in well-turned Attic
sentences, or to deliver a stately Latin oration to the messengers of
the Senate, she could also, when the occasion required brevity, wrap
herself in the robe of taciturnity which she inherited from her Teutonic
ancestors, and with few, diplomatically chosen words, make the hearer
feel his immeasurable inferiority to the "Lady of the Kingdoms". A
woman with a mind thus richly stored with the literary treasure of
Greece and Rome was likely to look with impatient scorn on the barren
and barbarous annals of her people. We in whose ears the notes of the
Teutonic minstrelsy of the Middle Ages are still sounding, we who know
that Shakespeare, Milton, Gœthe were all one day to arise from beneath
the soil of Germanic literature, can hardly conceive how dreary and
repulsive the national sagas, and even the every-day speech of her
people, would seem in that day to a woman of great intellectual
endowments, nor how strong would be the antagonism between culture and
national patriotism in the heart of a princess like Amalasuentha.

Thus the position of things during the reign of the young Athalaric was
strangely altered from that which had existed under his grandfather. The
"King of the Goths and Romans" was under the sway of a mother who would
make him virtually "King of the Romans", only leaving the Goths outside
in moody isolation. Of course every step that Amalasuentha, in the
enthusiasm of her love for things Roman, took towards the Roman Senate
carried her farther from the traditions of her people, and lost her the
love of some stern old Gothic warriors. And, moreover, with all her
great intellectual endowments, it is clear that this highly cultivated,
statuesque, and stately woman had little skill in reading character,
little power in estimating the force of human motives. She had read (we
may conjecture) Virgil and Sophocles, but she did not know what was in
the heart of a child, and she knew not how long a scoundrel will wait
for his revenge.

At the time that the Gothic kingdom was thus being administered by a
child and a woman, the Roman Empire, which had seemed effete and
decaying, was astonishing the world by its recovered and increasing
vigour. Since the death of Theodosius (more than one hundred and thirty
years before that of Theodoric) no great historic name had illustrated
the annals of the Eastern Empire, But now, a year after the accession of
Athalaric at Ravenna, the death of Justin, in the palace at
Constantinople, (1st Aug., 527) brought upon the scene an Emperor who,
whatever his faults, however disastrous (as I hold it to have been) his
influence on the general happiness of the human race, made for himself
undoubtedly one of the very greatest names in the whole series from
Julius to Palaeologus--the world-famous Emperor _Justinian._

With Justinian's long wars on the Eastern frontier of his Empire we have
here no concern. He was matched there against a terrible rival, Chosroes
Nushirvan, and at most succeeded (and that not always) in upholding the
banner of Europe against triumphant Asia. His domestic affairs, his
marriage with the actress Theodora, the strange ascendancy which she
exerted over him through life, his magnificent buildings, the rebellion
in Constantinople (springing out of the factions of the Hippodrome)
which had all but hurled him from his throne,--these also are all beyond
our province. So too is his noblest title to immortality, the
composition by his orders of that magnificent legal trilogy, the Code,
the Digest, and the Institutes, which summed up whatever was most worthy
of preservation in the labours of Roman lawyers for nine centuries in
the past, and sent it forward for at least thirteen centuries into the
future to ascertain the rights and to mould the institutions of men
dwelling in lands of the very existence of which no Roman, from the
first Julius to the last Constantine, ever dreamed. Justinian as
legislator is as much out of our present focus as Justinian the
antagonist of Persia.

But what we have here briefly to concern ourselves with is that
marvellous display of renewed energy by which the Empire, under
Justinian, made its presence felt in Western Europe and Africa. During
the thirty-eight years of his reign the great world-kingdom, which for
five generations had been losing province after province to the
Barbarians, and which, when she had once lost a game had seemed never to
have the heart to try her fortune again on the same battle-field, now
sent out her fleets and her armies, apparently with the same confidence
of success which had once animated her Scipios and her Sullas, again
planted her victorious standards on the citadel of Carthage, made the
New Carthage in Spain, Malaga, and distant Cadiz her own, and--what
concerns our present subject more nearly--once more asserted the
unrestricted dominion of the Roman Augustus over Italy "from the Alps to
the Sea". Let us beware of thinking of all these great changes as
strange and precarious extensions of "the Byzantine Empire". To do so
is to import the language of much later ages into the politics of the
sixth century. However clearly we may now see that the relations thus
established between Constantinople and the western shores of the
Mediterranean were artificial, and destined not to endure, to Justinian
and his contemporaries these were not "conquests by Constantinople", but
"the recovery of Africa, Italy, and part of Spain for the Roman
Republic".

The first of the Teutonic states to fall was the kingdom of the Vandals.
Its ruin was certainly hastened by the estrangement between its royal
house and that of the Ostrogoths. We left Theodoric's sister, the
stately and somewhat domineering Amalafrida in prison at Carthage. Soon
after her brother's death she was executed or murdered, by order of her
cousin the Catholic reformer, Hilderic. This outrage was keenly resented
by the court of Ravenna. Hostilities between the two states were
apparently imminent, but probably Amalasuentha felt that war, whether
successful or unsuccessful, would be too dangerous for the dynasty, and
sullen alienation took the place of the preparation of fleets and
armies. In June, 531, five years after the accession of Athalaric, the
elderly and effeminate Hilderic was deposed by his martial subjects who
had long chafed under the rule of such a sovereign, and his cousin, the
warlike Gelimer, ascended the throne. The deposition of Hilderic,
followed for the present not by his death but by his close imprisonment,
furnished the ambitious Justinian with a fair pretext for war, since
Hilderic was not only the ally of the Empire, and a Catholic, but was
descended on his mother's side from the great Theodosius and related to
many of the Byzantine nobility. In spite of the opposition of the more
cautious among his counsellors, Justinian decided to despatch an
expedition for the conquest of Carthage, and about Midsummer, 533, a
fleet of 500 ships, manned by 20,000 sailors and conveying 15,000
soldiers (10,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry), sailed forth from the
Bosphorus into the Sea of Marmora, bound for the Libyan waters. At the
head of the army was Belisarius, now about twenty-eight years of age, a
man who came, like his Imperial master, from the highlands of Illyricum,
but who, unlike that master, was probably of noble lineage. Three years
before, he had won the battle of Daras, defeating the Persian general,
whose army was nearly twice as numerous as his own, and he had already
shown signs of that profound knowledge of the science, and that
wonderful mastery of the art of war which he was afterwards to display
in many a hard-fought campaign, and which entitled him to a place in the
innermost circle of the greatest generals that the world has seen.

The voyage of the Imperial fleet was slow and tedious, and had the
Vandal king been well served by his ambassadors there was ample time to
have anticipated its attack. But Gelimer seems to have been quite
ignorant of the projected expedition, and had actually sent off some of
his best troops under the command of his brother, Tzazo, to suppress a
rebellion which had broken out in Sardinia. Moreover, the estrangement
between Vandals and Ostrogoths was a most fortunate event for the
Imperial cause. In consequence of that estrangement Belisarius was able
to land in Sicily to refresh his soldiers wearied with a long voyage,
and to obtain accurate information as to the preparations, or rather
no-preparations, of the enemy.

Early in September the army landed at the promontory of Caput-vada,
about one hundred and thirty miles south-east of Carthage, and began
their march towards the capital. They journeyed unopposed through
friendly Catholic villages, and royal parks beautiful in verdure and
abounding in luscious fruits, until, after eleven days, they arrived at
the tenth milestone[141] from Carthage, and here came the shock of war.
Gelimer had planned a combined attack on (13th Sept., 533) the Imperial
army, by himself, operating on their rear, and his brother Ammatas
making a vigorous sally from Carthage and attacking them in front. If
the two attacks had been really simultaneous, it might have gone hardly
with the Imperial army; but Ammatas came too soon to the field, was
defeated and slain. Gelimer arriving later on in the day inflicted a
partial defeat on the troops of Belisarius, but, coming to the spot
where lay the dead body of his brother, he stayed so long to bewail and
to bury him that Belisarius had time to rally his forces and to convert
defeat into victory. Gelimer fled to the open country. Belisarius
pressed on and without further opposition entered the gates of Carthage,
where he was received by the majority of the citizens, who spoke the
Latin tongue, and professed the Catholic faith, with unconcealed
rejoicing. Some Roman merchants who had been confined for many weeks in
the dungeon were (15th Sept., 533) liberated by their anxious gaoler.
But the Imperial victory came too late for the captive Hilderic, as he
had been already put to death in prison by order of his successor. There
was thus neither friend nor foe left to bar Justinian's claim to rule as
Augustus over Africa.

[Footnote 141: Ad Decimum.]

Belisarius was accompanied in this, as in many subsequent expeditions,
by his secretary and counsellor, the rhetorician Procopius, who has
written the story of their wars in a style worthy of his hero-chief. He
describes the sensations of surprise at their own good fortune, with
which Belisarius and his suite found themselves at noon of the 15 th
September, sitting in Gelimer's gorgeous banquet-hall, served by the
Vandal's lackeys and partaking of the sumptuous repast which he had
ordered to be prepared in celebration of his anticipated victory. At
this point Procopius indulges in a strain of meditation which is not
unusual with him: "We may see hereby how Fortune wantons in her pride,
how she teaches us that she is mistress of all things, and that she will
not suffer Man to have anything which he can call his own".

Though Carthage was taken, the war was not yet over. Tzazo, who, in the
midst of his victories in Sardinia, heard of the ruin of his country,
hastened home with a valiant and hitherto triumphant army, and joined
his brother, Gelimer, on the plain of Bulla, in Numidia. When the two
brothers met they clasped one another round the neck and for long could
not loosen their hold, yet could they speak no word to each other, but
wrung their hands and wept; and so did each one of the companions of
Gelimer with some one of the officers of the army of Sardinia. But tears
soon gave place to the longing for revenge, and the two armies, forming
one strong and determined host, moved eastward to Tricamaron, about
twenty miles distant from Carthage, and began a partial blockade of the
capital. On the 15 th December Belisarius met the Vandals in
battle-array. The fight was more stubbornly contested than that of Ad
Decimum; but Tzazo fell in the thickest of the battle, and again the
impulsive nature of Gelimer was so moved by the sight of a brother's
blood that he renounced the struggle for his crown and galloped away
from the field.

Now the conquest of Africa was indeed completed, but Belisarius was set
upon capturing the person of the fugitive king, as an ornament to his
triumph and the pledge of victory. The tedious task was delegated to a
Teutonic chief named Pharas, who for three months beleaguered the
impregnable hill on the confines of Mauritania, on the summit of which
was the fortress in which Gelimer had taken refuge. The incidents which
marked his final surrender have been often described. He who had been of
late the daintily-living lord of Africa found life hard indeed among the
rough, half-savage Moors, who were partly his body-guard and partly his
gaolers. An ambassador sent by Pharas to exhort him to surrender and
cast himself on the clemency of Justinian brought back his proud refusal
to submit to one who had done him so much undeserved wrong, but brought
back also a pathetic request that his courteous foe would grant him
three things, a lyre, a sponge, and a loaf of bread. The loaf was to
remind him of the taste of baked bread, which he had not eaten for
months; the sponge was to bathe his eyes, weakened with continual tears;
the lyre, to enable him to set to music an ode which he had composed on
the subject of his misfortunes. A few days more passed by, and then came
Gelimer's offer to surrender at discretion, trusting to the generosity
of the Emperor. What finally broke down his proud spirit was the sight
of a delicately nurtured child, the son of one of his Vandal courtiers,
fighting with a dirty little Moor for a half-baked piece of dough, which
the two boys had pulled out of the ashes where it was baking.

Gelimer, whose reason was perhaps somewhat unhinged by his hardships,
gave a loud laugh--professedly at the instability of human
greatness--when brought into the presence of Belisarius. He and his
captors soon embarked for Constantinople, where they arrived probably
about the middle of 534. It had thus taken less than a year to level
with the ground the whole fabric of Vandal dominion, reared a century
before by the terrible Gaiseric, and to reunite Africa to the Roman
Republic. Belisarius received a splendid triumph, the chief figure of
which was of course the captive Gelimer, who, with a purple robe on his
shoulders, paced through the streets, shouting ever and anon in a
melancholy voice, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity". When the
procession reached the palace, Gelimer by constraint and Belisarius
willingly prostrated themselves at the feet of "Justinianus Augustus".
The promises on the faith of which the Vandal king had surrendered
himself were well kept. He might have been raised to the dignity of
Patrician, if he would have renounced his Arian creed. As it was, he
lived in honourable exile on the large estates in Galatia, which he had
received from the bounty of the Emperor.

In the same year (534) which witnessed the triumph of Belisarius over
the conquered Vandals came the final overthrow of the Burgundian
monarchy. In 523 Sigismund, the son-in-law of Theodoric, the convert to
Catholicism who ordered the murder of his son, had been defeated in
battle by the sons of Clovis, and together with his wife and two sons
had been thrown down a deep well and so slain. Theodoric, incensed at
the murder of his grandson, had taken part against Sigismund and
obtained a large accession of territory in Dauphiné as the price of his
alliance with the Franks. But a brother of Sigismund's, named Godamir,
rallied the beaten Burgundians, defeated the Franks in a battle in which
one of their kings was slain, and succeeded in maintaining for eleven
years longer the independence of his nation. In the year 532, however,
the Frankish kings again entered the valley of the Rhone with their
desolating hosts, and in 534 they completed its conquest and added it to
the great unwieldy monarchy over which they ruled in a kind of family
partnership.

In Spain too the Frankish kings had achieved some successes, and at the
cost of a descendant of Theodoric. Amalaric, king of the Visigoths, had
married, probably after his grandfather's death, Clotilda, daughter of
Clovis, and for a time seems to have pursued a tolerant policy towards
the Catholics, but gradually drifted into a position of unreasoning and
barbarous hostility towards them, hostility from which his own wife was
not exempted. He caused filth to be cast at the devout Clotilda, when
she was on her way to the Catholic basilica, nay, he even lifted his
hand to strike her. The cowardly blow brought blood, and the drops of
this blood, royal and Frankish, collected on a handkerchief and sent
northward over the Pyrenees, brought the two brother-kings of the Franks
into Spain (431). Amalaric was defeated,[142] fled to Barcelona, and
sought to escape thence by sea, probably to Italy; but his passage to
the harbour was barred by his own mutinous soldiers, and he perished by
a javelin hurled by one of them. The Franks returned, enriched with
great booty, to their own land, and Theudis, the Ostrogothic noble,
whose power had long overshadowed his master's, and who was accused by
some of having caused the mutiny of his troops, succeeded to his throne.

[Footnote 142: At Narbonne. The part of Languedoc called Septimania was
still held by the Visigoths.]

So had the great Arian league and the network of family alliances, by
which Theodoric had sought to guard it from the spoiler, passed away
into nothingness: and thus did the Ostrogothic kingdom now stand alone
and without allies before the rejuvenated Empire, flushed with victory,
and possessing such a head as Justinian, such a terrible right arm as
Belisarius. Not many months had elapsed from the battle of Tricamaron
when the ambassadors of the Empire appeared at Ravenna to present those
claims out of which Greek ingenuity would soon fashion a pretext for
war. The town of Lilybæum, in Sicily had long ago been handed over by
Theodoric to the Vandal king Thrasamund as part of Amalafrida's dowry.
Apparently it had been recaptured by the Goths after the death of the
Vandal queen, but Justinian urged that it was still the rightful
possession of Gelimer, and therefore of himself, who now by the fortune
of war was Gelimer's master. Then there were certain Huns, deserters
from the Emperor's service, who had been allowed by the governor of
Naples to enlist in the Gothic army. A Gothic general who had to conduct
some warlike operations near Sirmium had crossed the Danube and sacked
Gratiana, a city in Mœsia. All these grievances were rehearsed by the
Imperial ambassador, who hinted, not obscurely, that war would follow if
they were not redressed.

In fact, however, the real object of the embassy which came with this
formal statement of grievances was to discuss a strange proposition
which had been made by Amalasuentha, one for the understanding of which
we must go back a few years (we are not told exactly how many) to an
event which illustrates the manner in which the Gothic princess
conducted the education of her son. She wished, we are told, to have him
brought up in all respects after the manner of the Romans, and forced
him every day to go to the house of a grammarian to learn his lessons.
Moreover, she chose out three Gothic ancients, men of wisdom and of
calm, reasonable temperament, and assigned these venerable persons to
Athalaric as his constant companions. This manner of training the kingly
boy did not at all suit the ideas of the Goths, the Roman historian
says, "because they wished him to be trained in more barbaric style in
order that they might have the more liberty for oppressing their
subjects": a modern historian may suggest, "because they remembered
their own childhood and knew what was in the heart of a boy", of which
Amalasuentha, who was evidently elderly and wise in her cradle, had no
conception. One day, for some childish offence, the young king was
slapped in the face by his mother, and thereupon, in a tempest of
passionate tears, he burst out of the women's apartments and appeared
sobbing in the men's hall of audience. All Gothic hearts were stirred
when they saw the princely Amal thus mishandled, and the warriors began
to hint the insulting suspicion that Amalasuentha wished to educate her
child into his grave, that she might marry again and make her new
husband king of the Goths and Romans. The nobles of the nation were
gathered together, and seeking an audience with the princess, their
spokesman thus addressed her: "O lady, you are not dealing justly by us,
nor doing that which is expedient for the nation, in your way of
educating your son. Letters and book-learning are very different from
manly courage and fortitude, and to hand a lad over to the teaching of
greybeards is generally the way to make him a coward and a caitiff. He
who is to do daring deeds and win glory in the world must be emancipated
from fear of the pedagogue and be practising martial exercises. Your
father Theodoric would never suffer his Goths to send their sons to the
grammarian-school, for he used to say: 'If they fear their teacher's
strap now they will never look on sword or javelin without a shudder.'
And he himself, who won the lordship of such wide lands, and died king
of so fair a kingdom which he had not inherited from his fathers, knew
nothing even by hearsay of this book-learning. Therefore, lady, you must
say 'good-bye' to these pedagogues, and give Athalaric companions of his
own age, who may grow up with him to manhood and make of him a valiant
king after the pattern of the barbarians".

Amalasuentha listened with outward calmness to this harangue, and though
filled with secret indignation recognised the people's voice to which
she was forced to bow. The meek old men were removed from Athalaric's
bed-chamber; he was released from his daily attendance on the
grammarian; and some young Gothic nobles were assigned to him as
associates. But the rebound was too sudden. His barbarian comrades led
astray the young king's heart after wine and women. His health began to
be undermined by his excesses, and the surly ill-nature which he
manifested towards his mother was a sure indication of the defenceless
position in which she would find herself as soon as her son should
assume the reins of government. Feeling these reins slipping from her
grasp, she opened secret negotiations with Justinian to assure herself
of his protection in case she should be driven from Italy by rebellion.
But in the meantime she singled out three of the Gothic nobles who had
been prominent in the revolt against her authority and sent them, on one
pretext or another connected with the defence of the realm, to widely
separated towns on the extreme borders of Italy. Though severed, they
still found means to hold mutual communications and to plot the downfall
of the princess. Informed of this conspiracy, she freighted a vessel
with forty thousand pounds' weight of gold (£1,6000,000) and sent it to
Dyrrhachium, on the eastern shore of the Adriatic, to await her further
orders. If things should go ill with her she would thus, in any event,
have a line of retreat opened towards Constantinople and a comfortable
subsistence assured to her in that capital. Having taken these
precautions, she gave a commission to some of her bravest and most
devoted followers (for she evidently had a strong party in her favour)
to seek out the three disaffected nobles in their various places of
banishment and put them to death. Her henchmen obeyed her bidding; no
popular tumult was excited; the sceptre seemed to be more firmly than
ever grasped by the hand of the princess; the ship, without having
discharged its cargo, was ordered back from Dyrrhachium, and there came
a slight lull in the underground negotiations with Constantinople.

But another candidate for the favours of Justinian was also appearing in
the royal family of the Goths. Theodahad, son of Amalfrida, and
therefore nephew of Theodoric, was a man now pretty far advanced in
middle life. He had received in his boyhood that literary and rhetorical
training which Amalasuentha yearned to bestow on her son; he was well
versed in the works of the Roman orators and could discourse learnedly
on the dialogues of Plato. Unhappily, this varnish of intellectual
culture covered a thoroughly vile and rotten character. He was averse to
all the warlike employments of his forefathers, but his whole heart was
set on robbery, under the form of civilisation, by means of extortion
and chicane. He had received from his uncle ample estates in the fertile
province of Tuscany, but he was one who, as the common people said,
"could not endure a neighbour", and, on one pretence or other, he was
perpetually adding farm after farm and villa after villa to his enormous
property. Already during his uncle's reign the grave pen of Cassiodorus
had been twice employed to censure Theodahad's avarice, "a vulgar vice,
which the kinsman of the king and a man of Amal blood is especially
bound to avoid", and to complain that "you, who should have shown an
example of glorious moderation, have caused the scandal of high-handed
spoliation". After Theodoric's death the process of unjust accumulation
went on rapidly. From every part of Tuscany the cry went up that the
provincials were being oppressed and their lands taken from them on no
pretext whatever; and the Counts of the Royal Patrimony had to complain
that even the king's domain was suffering from Theodahad's depredations.
He was summoned to the _Comitatus_ or King's Court, at Ravenna; his
various acts of alleged spoliation were inquired into; their injustice
was clearly proved, and he was compelled by Amalasuentha to restore the
wrongfully appropriated lands.

It was perhaps before this process was actually begun, but after
Theodahad was made aware that the clamour against him was growing louder
and had reached the ears of his cousin, that he sought an interview with
the Bishops of Ephesus and Philippi, who had come over to Italy on some
ecclesiastical errand from the Emperor to the Pope. To these clerical
ambassadors Theodahad made the extraordinary proposal that Justinian
should buy of him the province of Tuscany for a certain large sum of
money, to which was to be added the dignity of a Senator of
Constantinople. If this negotiation could be carried through, the
diligent student of Plato and Cicero proposed to end his days in
dignified retirement at the Eastern capital.

We may now return to the palace of Ravenna and be present at the
audience granted, probably in the summer of 534, by Amalasuentha to
Alexander, the ambassador of Justinian. To the demands for the surrender
of Lilybæum and the complaints as to the enlistment of Hunnish
deserters, Amalasuentha made, in public, a suitable and sprited reply:
"It was not the part of a great and courageous monarch to pick a quarrel
with an orphaned king, too young to be accurately informed of what was
going on in all parts of his dominions, about such paltry matters as the
possession of Lilybæum, a barren and worthless rock of Sicily, about
ten wild Huns who had sought refuge in Italy, and about the offence
which the Gothic soldiers had, in their ignorance, committed against a
friendly city in Mœsia. Justinian should look at the other side of the
account, should remember the aid and comfort which his soldiers, on
their expedition against the Vandals, had received from the friendly
Ostrogoths in Sicily, and should ask himself whether without that aid he
would ever have recovered possession of Africa. If Lilybæum did belong
by right to the Emperor it was not too great a reward for him to bestow
on his young ally for such opportune assistance".

This was publicly the answer of Amalasuentha--a bold and determined
refusal to surrender the rock of Lilybæum. In her private interview with
the ambassador, she assured him that she was ready to fulfil her compact
and to make arrangements for the transfer to the Emperor of the whole of
Italy.

When the two sets of ambassadors, civil and ecclesiastical, returned to
Constantinople the Emperor perceived that here were two negotiations to
be carried on of the most delicate kind and requiring the presence of a
master of diplomacy. He accordingly despatched to Ravenna a rhetorician
named Peter, a man of considerable intellectual endowments--he was a
historian as well as an orator--and one who had, eighteen years before,
held the high office of consul. But it was apparently winter before
Peter started on his journey, and when he arrived at Aulon (now Valona),
just opposite Brindisi, he heard such startling tidings as to the events
which had occurred on the Italian side of the Adriatic, that he waited
there and asked for further instructions from his master as to the
course which he was to pursue in the existing position of affairs. (2nd
Oct., 534.)

First of all came the death of the unhappy lad, Athalaric, in his
eighteenth year, the victim of unwise strictness, followed by unwise
licence, and of the barbarian's passion for swinish and sensual
pleasures. When her son was dead, Amalasuentha, who had an instinctive
feeling that the Goths would never submit to undisguised female
sovereignty, took a strange and desperate resolution. She sent for
Theodahad, now the only surviving male of the stock of Theodoric, and,
fashioning her lips to a smile, began to apologise for the humiliating
sentence which had issued against him from the King's Court. "She had
known all along", she said, "that her boy would die, and as he,
Theodahad, would then be the one hope of Theodoric's line, she had
wished to abate his unpopularity and set him straight with his future
subjects by strictly enforcing their rights against him. Now all that
was over: his record was clear and she was ready to invite him to become
the partner of her throne;[143] but he must first swear the most solemn
oaths that he would be satisfied with the name of royalty and that the
actual power should remain, as it had done for nine years, in the hands
of Amalasuentha".

[Footnote 143: As colleague, not as husband; Theodahad's wife, Gudelina,
was still living when he ascended the throne.]

Theodahad cheerfully swore tremendous oaths to the observance of this
compact. Proclamations in the name of the two new sovereigns were put
forth to all the Goths and Italians. In them Theodahad grovelled in
admiration of the wisdom, the virtue, the eloquence of the noble lady
who had raised him to so high a station and who had done him the
inestimable favour of making him feel her justice before she bestowed
upon him her grace. Few weeks, however, passed, before Amalasuentha was
a prisoner, hurried away to a little lonely island in the Lake of
Bolsena in Tuscany by order of the partner of her throne. Having taken
this step, Theodahad began with craven apologies to excuse it to the
Eastern Cæsar. "He had done no harm to Amalasuentha; he would do no harm
to her, though she had been guilty of the most nefarious designs against
him: he only sought to protect her from the vengeance of the kinsmen of
the three Gothic nobles whom she had murdered". An embassy composed of
Roman Senators was ordered to carry this tale to Justinian and to
confirm it by a letter which, under duresse, had been wrung from the
unfortunate princess in her prison. When the ambassadors arrived at
Constantinople one of them spoke the words of the part which had been
set down for him and declared that Theodahad had done nothing against
Amalasuentha of which any reasonable complaint could be made; but the
others, headed by the brave Liberius, "a man of singularly high and
noble nature, and of the most watchful regard to truth", told the whole
story exactly as it had happened to the Emperor. The result was a
despatch to the ambassador Peter enjoining him to find means of
assuring Amalasuentha that Justinian would exert all his influence for
her safety, and to inform Theodahad publicly, in presence of all his
counsellors, that it was at his own peril that he would touch a hair of
the head of the Gothic queen.

Scarcely, however, had Peter touched the Italian shore--he had not
conveyed a letter to the prison nor uttered a word in the palace--when
the sad tragedy was ended. The relations of the three nobles, who had
"blood-feud" with the queen, and who were perhaps, according to the code
of barbarian morality, justified in avenging their death, made their way
to Amalasuentha's island prison, and there, in that desolate abode, the
daughter of Theodoric met her death at their hands, dying with all that
stately dignity and cold self-possession with which she had lived.

Justinian's ambassador at once proceeded to the King's Court, and there,
in the presence of all the Gothic nobles, denounced the foul deed which
they had permitted to be done, and declared that for this there must be
"truceless war" between the Emperor and them. Theodahad, as stupid as he
was vile, renewed his ridiculous protestations that he had no part in
the violence done to Amalasuentha, but had heard of it with the utmost
regret, and this although he had already rewarded the murderers with
signal tokens of his favour.

Thus, by the folly of the wise and the criminal audacity of the coward,
had a train been laid for the destruction of the Ostrogothic kingdom.
All the petty pretexts for war, the affair of Lilybæum, the Hunnish
deserters, the sack of Gratiana, faded into insignificance before this
new and most righteous cause of quarrel. If Hilderic's deposition had
been avenged by the capture of Carthage, with far more justice might the
death of the noble Amalasuentha be avenged by the capture of Ravenna and
of Rome. In the great war which was soon to burst upon Italy Justinian
could figure not only as the protector of the provincials, not only as
the defender of the Catholics, but as the avenger of the blood of the
daughter of Theodoric.

[Illustration: PIECE OF FORTY NUMMI OF THEODAHAD. NUMMI (COPPER).]

[Illustration]




                           CHAPTER XVI.


                           BELISARIUS.

Justinian begins his great Gothic war--Dalmatia recovered for the
Empire--Belisarius lands in Sicily--Siege of Palermo--The South of Italy
overrun--Naples taken by a stratagem--Theodahad deposed by the
Goths--Witigis elected king--The Goths evacuate Rome--Belisarius enters
it--The long siege of Rome by the Goths who fail to take it--Belisarius
marches northward and captures Ravenna.


The Emperor's preparations for the Gothic war were soon made, and in the
summer of 535 two armies were sent forth from Constantinople, one
destined to act on the east and the other on the west of the Adriatic.
When we think of the mighty armaments by means of which Pompey and
Cæsar, or even Licinius and Constantine, had contended for the mastery
of the Roman world, the forces entrusted to the generals of Justinian
seem strangely small. We are not informed of the precise number of the
army sent to Dalmatia, but the whole tenor of the narrative leads us to
infer that it consisted of not more than 3,000 or 4,000 men. It fought
with varying fortunes but with ultimate success. Salona, the Dalmatian
capital, was taken by the Imperial army, wrested from them by the Goths,
retaken by the Imperialists. The Imperial general, a brave old barbarian
named Mundus, fell dead by the side of his slaughtered son; but another
general took his place, and being well supported by a naval expedition,
succeeded, as has been said, in reconquering Salona, drove out the
Gothic generals, and reincorporated Dalmatia with the Empire. This
province, which had for many generations been treated almost as a part
of Italy, was now for four centuries to be for the most part a
dependency of Constantinople. The Dalmatian war was ended by the middle
of 536.

But it was of course to the Italian expedition that the eyes of the
spectators of the great drama were most eagerly turned. Here Belisarius
commanded, peerless among the generals of his own age, and not surpassed
by many of preceding or following ages. The force under his command
consisted of only 7,500 men, the greater part of whom were of barbarian
origin--Huns, Moors, Isaurians, Gepidse, Heruli, but they were welded
together by that instinct of military discipline and that unbounded
admiration for their great commander and confidence in his success which
is the surest herald of victory. Not only in nationality but in mode of
fighting they were utterly unlike the armies with which republican Rome
had won the sovereignty of the world. In those days it might have been
truly said to the inhabitant of the seven-hilled city as Macaulay has
imagined Capys saying to Romulus:

    "Thine, Roman | is the pilum:
     Roman | the sword is thine.
     The even trench, the bristling mound,
     The legion's ordered line"--

but now, centuries of fighting with barbarian foes, especially with the
nimble squadrons of Persia, had completely changed the character of the
Imperial tactics. It was to the deadly aim of his _Hippo-toxotai_
(mounted bowmen) that Belisarius, in pondering over his victories,
ascribed his antonishing success. "He said that at the beginning of his
first great battle he had carefully studied the characteristic
differences of each army, in order that he might prevent his little band
from being overborne by sheer force of numbers. The chief difference
which he noted was that almost all the Roman (Imperialist) soldiers and
their Hunnish allies were good _Hippo-toxotai_, while the Goths had none
of them practised the art of shooting on horseback. Their cavalry fought
only with javelins and swords, and their archers fought on foot covered
by the horsemen. Thus till the battle became a hand-to-hand encounter
the horsemen could make no reply to the arrows discharged at them from a
distance, and were therefore easily thrown into disorder, while the
foot-soldiers, though able to reply to the enemy's archers, could not
stand against the charges of his horse".[144] From this passage we can
see what were the means by which Belisarius won his great victories.
While the Goth, with his huge broadsword and great javelin, chafing for
a hand-to-hand encounter with the foe, found himself mowed down by the
arrows of a distant enemy, the nimble barbarian who called himself a
Roman solder discharged his arrows at the cavalry, dashed in impetuous
onset against the infantry, wheeled round, feigned flight, sent his
arrows against the too eagerly advancing horsemen, in fact, by Parthian
tactics won a Roman victory, or to use a more modern illustration, the
_Hippo-toxotai_ were the "Mounted Rifles" of the Imperial army.

[Footnote 144: Procophis, "De Bello Gotthico", i, 27.]

The expedition under the command of Belisarius made its first attack on
the Gothic kingdom in Sicily. Here the campaign was little more than a
triumphant progress. In reliance on its professions of loyalty,
Theodoric and his successors had left the wealthy and prosperous island
almost bare of Gothic troops, and now the provincials, eager to form
once more a part of the Eternal Roman Empire, opened the gates of city
after city to the troops of Justinian; only at Palermo was a stout
resistance made by the Gothic soldiers who garrisoned the city. The
walls were strong, and that part of them which bordered on the harbour
was thought to be so high and massive as not to need the defence of
soldiers. When unobserved by the foe, Belisarius hoisted up his men,
seated in boats, to the yard-arms of his ships and made them clamber out
of the boats on to the unguarded parapet. This daring manœuvre gave him
the complete command of the Gothic position, and the garrison
capitulated without delay. So was the whole island of Sicily won over
to the realm of Justinian before the end of 535, and Belisarius, Consul
for the year, rode through the streets of Syracuse on the last day of
his term of office, scattering his "donative" to the shouting soldiers
and citizens.

Operations in 536, the second year of the war, were suspended for some
months by a military mutiny at Carthage, which called for the presence
of Belisarius in Africa. But the mutineers quailed before the very name
of their late commander. Carthage was delivered from the siege wherewith
they were closely pressing it, a battle was won in the open field, and
the rebellion though not yet finally crushed was sufficiently weakened
for Belisarius to return to Sicily in the late spring of 536. He crossed
the Straits of Messina, landed in Italy, was received by the provincials
of Bruttii and Lucania with open arms, and met with no check to his
progress till, probably in the early days of June, he stood with his
army under the walls of the little town of Neapolis, which in our own
days is represented by a successor ten times as large, the superbly
situated city of Naples. Here a strong Gothic garrison held the place
for Theodahad and prevented the surrender which many of the citizens,
especially those of the poorer class, would gladly have made. An orator,
who was sent by the Neapolitans to plead their cause in the general's
camp, vainly endeavoured to persuade Belisarius to march forward to
Rome, leaving the fate of, Naples to be decided under the walls of the
capital. The Imperial general could not leave so strong a place untaken
in his rear, and though himself anxious enough to meet Theodahad,
commenced the siege of the city. His land army was supported by the
fleet which was anchored in the harbour, yet the operations of the siege
languished, and after twenty days Belisarius seemed to be no nearer
winning the prize of war than on the first day. But just then one of his
soldiers, a brave and active Isaurian mountaineer, reported that he had
found a means of entering the empty aqueduct through which, till
Belisarius severed the communication, water had been supplied to the
city. The passage was narrow, and at one point the rock had to be filed
away to allow the soldiers to pass, but all this was done without
arousing the suspicions of the besieged, and one night Belisarius sent
six hundred soldiers, headed by the Isaurian, into the aqueduct, having
arranged with them the precise portion of the walls to which they were
to rush as soon as they emerged into the city. The daring attempt
succeeded. The soldiers found themselves in a large cavern with a narrow
opening at the top, on the brink of which was a cottage. Some of the
most active among them swarmed up the sides of the cave, found the
cottage inhabited by one old woman who was easily frightened into
silence, and let down a stout leather thong which they fastened to the
stem of an olive-tree, and by which all their comrades mounted. They
rushed to that part of the walls beneath which Belisarius was standing,
blew their trumpets, and assisted the besiegers to ascend. The Gothic
garrison were taken prisoners and treated honourably by Belisarius. The
city suffered some of the usual horrors of a sack from the wild Hunnish
soldiers of the Empire, but these were somewhat mitigated, and the
citizens who had been taken prisoners were restored to liberty, in
compliance with the earnest entreaties of Belisarius.

The fall of Neapolis, to whose assistance no Gothic army had marched,
and the unhindered conquest of Southern Italy crowned the already
towering edifice of Theodahad's unpopularity. It is not likely that this
selfish and unwarlike pedant--a "nithing", as they probably called
him--had ever been aught but a most unwelcome necessity to the
lion-hearted Ostrogoths, and for all but the families and friends of the
three slain noblemen, the imprisonment and the permitted murder of his
benefactress must have deepened dislike into horror. His dishonest
intrigues with Constantinople were known to many, intrigues in which
even after Amalasuentha's death he still offered himself and his crown
for sale to the Emperor, and the Emperor, notwithstanding his brave
words about a truceless war, seemed willing to pay the caitiff his
price. Some gleams of success which shone upon the Gothic arms in
Dalmatia towards the end of 535 filled the feeble soul of Theodahad with
presumptuous hope, and he broke off with arrogant faithlessness the
negotiations which he had begun. Still, with all the gallant men under
him longing to be employed, he struck not one blow for his crown and
country, but shut himself up in his palace, seeking by the silliest
auguries to ascertain the issue of the war. The most notable of these
vaticinations was "the Augury of the Hogs", which he practised by the
advice of a certain Jewish magician. He shut up in separate pens three
batches of hogs, each batch consisting of ten. One batch was labelled
"Romans" (meaning the Latin-speaking inhabitants of Italy), another
"Goths", and the third "Soldiers of the Emperor". They were all left for
a certain number of days without food, and when the appointed day was
come, and the pens were opened, all the "Gothic" hogs but two were found
dead. The "Emperor's soldiers", with very few exceptions, were living;
of the "Romans" half only were alive, and all had lost their bristles.
Ridiculous as the manner of divination was, it furnished no inapt type
of the miseries which the Gothic war was to bring upon all concerned in
it, and not least upon that Latin population which was still so keen to
open its gates to Belisarius.

But, as I have said, when Neapolis had fallen, the brave Gothic warriors
felt that they had submitted too long to the rule of a dastard like
Theodahad. They met in arms, a nation-parliament, on the plain of
Regeta, about forty-three miles from Rome in the direction of Terracina.
Here there was plenty of grass for the pasture of their horses, and
here, while the steeds grazed, the dismounted riders could deliberate as
to the fortunes of the state. There was found to be an unanimous
determination that Iheodahad should be dethroned, and, instead of him,
they raised on the shield, Witigis, a man somewhat past middle age, not
of noble birth, who had distinguished himself by his deeds of valour
thirty years before in the war of Sirmium. As soon as Theodahad heard
the tidings of his deposition, he sought to escape with all speed to
Ravenna. The new king ordered a Goth named Optaris to pursue him and
bring him back alive or dead. Optaris had his own wrongs to avenge, for
he had lost a rich and beautiful bride through Theodahad's purchased
interference on behalf of another suitor. He followed him day and night,
came up with him while still on the road, "made him lie down on the
pavement, and cut his throat as a priest cuts the throat of a
victim".[145] So did Theodahad perish, one of the meanest insects that
ever crawled across the page of history.

[Footnote 145: There was perhaps an interval of some months during which
Theodahad was in hiding. His deposition is fixed by one authority
(Anastasius) to August, and his death, by another (Agnellus), to
December, 536, but all our chronological details as to this part of the
history are vague and uncertain.]

Witigis, the new king of the Goths, had personal courage and some
experience of battles, but he was no statesman and, as the event proved,
no general. By his advice, the Goths committed the astounding blunder of
abandoning Rome and concentrating their forces for defence in the north
of Italy. It is true that a garrison of four thousand Goths was left in
the city under the command of the brave veteran Leudaris, but,
unsupported by any army in the field, this body of men was too small to
hold so vast a city unless they were aided by the inhabitants. As for
Witigis, he marched northward to Ravenna with the bulk of the Gothic
army and there celebrated, not a victory, but a marriage. The only
remaining scion of the race of Theodoric was a young girl named
Matasuentha, the sister of Athalaric. In some vain hope of consolidating
his dynasty, Witigis divorced his wife and married this young princess.
The marriage was, as might have been expected, an unhappy one.
Matasuentha shared the Romanising tendencies of her mother, and her
spirit revolted against the alleged reasons of state which gave her this
elderly and low-born barbarian for a husband. In the darkest hour of the
Gothic fortunes (540) Matasuentha was suspected of opening secret
negotiations with the Imperial leaders, and even of seeking to aid the
progress of their arms by crime.

By the end of November, 536, Belisarius, partly aided by the treachery
of the Gothic general who commanded in Samnium, had recovered for the
Empire all that part of the Italian peninsula which, till lately, formed
the Kingdom of Naples. Pope Silverius, though he had sworn under duresse
an oath of fealty to King Witigis, sent messengers offering to surrender
the Eternal City, and the four thousand Goths, learning what
negotiations were going forward, came to the conclusion that it was
hopeless for them to attempt to defend the City against such a general
as Belisarius and against the declared wish of the citizens. They
accordingly marched out of Rome by a northern gate as Belisarius entered
it on the south.[146] The brave old Leudaris, refusing to abandon his
trust, was taken prisoner, and sent, together with the keys of the City,
to Justinian, most undoubted evidences of victory.

[Footnote 146: December, 536.]

Belisarius took up his headquarters in the Pincian Palace (on that hill
at the north of the City which is now the fashionable promenade of the
Roman aristocracy), and from thence commanded a wide outlook over that
part of the Campagna on which, as he knew, a besieging army would
shortly encamp. He set to work with all speed to repair the walls of the
City, which had been first erected by Aurelian and afterwards repaired
by Honorius at dates respectively 260 and 130 years before the entry of
Belisarius. Time and barbarian sieges had wrought much havoc on the line
of defence, the work of repair had to be done in haste, and to this day
some archaeologists think that it is possible to recognise the parts
repaired by Belisarius through the rough style of the work and the
heterogeneous nature of the materials employed in it. All through the
winter months his ships were constantly arriving with cargoes of corn
from Sicily, which were safely stored away in the great
State-warehouses. These preparations were viewed with dismay by the
citizens, who had fondly imagined that their troubles were over when the
Gothic soldiers marched forth by the Porta Flaminia; that any fighting
which might follow would take place on some distant field, and that they
would have nothing to do but calmly to await the issue of the combat.
This, however, was by no means the general's idea of the right way of
playing the game. He knew that the Goths immensely outnumbered his
forces; he knew also that they were of old bad besiegers of cities, the
work of siege requiring a degree of patience and scientific skill to
which the barbarian nature could not attain; and his plan was to wear
them down by compelling them to undertake a long and wearisome blockade
before he tried conclusions with them in the open field. If the Roman
clergy and people had known that this was in his thoughts, they would
probably not have been so ready to welcome the eagles of the Emperor
into their city.

Some hint of the growing disaffection of the Roman people was carried to
Ravenna and quickened the impatience of Witigis, who was now eager to
retrieve the blunder which he had committed in the evacuation of Rome.
He marched southward with a large army, which is represented to us as
consisting of 150,000 men, and in the early days of March he was already
at the other end of the Milvian Bridge,[147] about two miles from Rome.
Belisarius had meant to dispute the passage of the Tiber at this point.
The fort on the Tuscan side of the river was garrisoned, and a large
body of soldiers was encamped on the Roman side; but when the garrison
of the fort saw the vast multitude of the enemy, who at sunset pitched
their tents upon the plain, they despaired of making a successful
resistance, and abandoning the fort under cover of the night, skulked
off into the country districts of Latium. Thus one point of the game was
thrown away. Next morning the Goths finding their passage unopposed,
marched quietly over the bridge and fell upon the Roman camp. A
desperate battle followed, in which Belisarius, exposing himself more
than a general should have done, did great deeds of valour. He was
mounted on a noble steed, dark roan, with a white star on its forehead,
which the barbarians, from that mark on its brow, called "Balan". Some
Imperial soldiers who had deserted to the enemy knew the steed and his
rider, and shouted to their comrades to aim all their darts at Balan. So
the cry "Balan! Balan!" resounded through the Gothic ranks, and though
only imperfectly understood by many of the utterers, had the effect of
concentrating the fight round Belisarius and the dark-roan steed. The
general was nobly protected by the picked troops which formed his guard.
They fell by scores around him, but he himself, desperately fighting,
received never a wound, though a thousand of the noblest Goths lay dead
in the narrow space of ground where this Homeric combat had been going
forward. The Imperialists not merely withstood the Gothic onset, but
drove their opponents back to their camp, which had been already erected
on the Roman bank of the Tiber. Fresh troops, especially of cavalry,
issuing forth from thence turned the tide of battle, and, overborne by
irresistible numbers, Belisarius and his soldiers were soon in full
flight towards Rome. When they arrived under the walls, with the
barbarians so close behind them that they seemed to form one raging
multitude, they found the gates closed against them by the
panic-stricken garrison. Even Belisarius in vain shouted his orders to
open the gates; in his gory face and dust-stained figure the defenders
did not recognise their brilliant leader. A halt was called, a desperate
charge was made upon the pursuing Goths, who were already beginning to
pour down into the fosse; they were pushed back some distance, not far,
but far enough to enable the Imperialists to reform their ranks, to make
the presence of the general known to the defenders on the walls, to have
the gates opened, and in some sort of military order to enter the city.
Thus the sun set on Rome beleaguered, the barbarians outside the City.
Belisarius with his gallant band of soldiers thinned but not
disheartened by the struggle, within its walls, and the citizens--

                            "with terror dumb,
    Or whispering with white lips, 'The foe, they come, they come!"

[Footnote 147: Now the Ponte Molle.]

Of the great Siege of Rome, which began on that day, early in March,
537, and lasted a year and nine days, till March, 538, a siege perhaps
the most memorable of all that "Roma Æterna" has seen and has groaned
under, as part of the penalty of her undying greatness, it will be
impossible here to give even a meagre outline. The events of those
wonderful 374 days are chronicled almost with the graphic minuteness of
a Kinglake by a man whom we may call the literary assessor of
Belisarius, the rhetorician Procopius of Cæsarea. One or two incidents
of the siege may be briefly noticed here, and then we must hasten
onwards to its close.

Owing to the vast size of Rome not even the host of the Goths was able
to accomplish a complete blockade of the City. They formed seven camps
six on the left and one on the right bank of the Tiber, and they
obstructed eight out of its four teen gates; but while the east and
south sides of the City were thus pretty effectually blockaded, there
were large spaces in the western circuit by which it was tolerably easy
for Belisarius to receive reinforcements, to bring in occasional convoys
of provisions, and to send away non-combatants who diminished his
resisting power. One of the hardest blows dealt by the barbarians was
their severance of the eleven great aqueducts from which Rome received
its water. This privation of an element so essential to the health and
comfort of the Roman under the Empire (who resorted to the bath as a
modern Italian resorts to the café or the music hall), was felt as a
terrible blow by all classes, and wrought a lasting change, and not a
beneficial one, in the habits of the citizens, and in the sanitary
condition of Rome. It also seemed likely to have an injurious effect on
the food supply of the City, since the mills in which corn was ground
for the daily rations of the people were turned by water-power derived
from the Aqueduct of Trajan. Belisarius, however, always fertile in
resource, a man who, had he lived in the nineteenth century, would
assuredly have been a great engineer, contrived to make Father Tiber
grind out the daily supply of flour for his Roman children. He moored
two barges in the narrowest part of the stream, where the current was
the strongest, put his mill-stones on board of them, and hung a
water-wheel between them to turn his mills. These river water-mills
continued to be used on the Tiber all through the Middle Ages, and even
until they were superseded by the introduction of steam.

The Goths did not resign themselves to the slow languors of a blockade
till they had made one vigorous and confident attempt at a storm. On the
eighteenth day of the siege the terrified Romans saw from their windows
the mighty armament approaching the City. A number of wooden towers as
high as the walls, mounted on wheels, and drawn by the stout oxen of
Etruria, moved menacingly forward amid the triumphant shouts of the
barbarians, each of whom had a bundle of boughs and reeds under his arm
ready to be thrown into the fosse, and so prepare a level surface upon
which the terrible engines might approach the walls. To resist this
attack Belisarius had prepared a large number of _Balistæ_ (gigantic
cross-bows worked by machinery and discharging a short wedge-like bolt
with such force as to break trees or stones) had planted on the walls,
great slings, which the soldiers called Wild Asses (_Onagri_), and had
set in each gate the deadly machine known as the Wolf, and which was a
kind of double portcullis, worked both from above and from below.

But though the Gothic host was approaching with its threatening towers
close to the walls, Belisarius would not give the signal, and not a
_Balista_, nor a Wild Ass was allowed to hurl its missiles against the
foe. He only laughed aloud, and bade the soldiers do nothing till he
gave the word of command. To the citizens this seemed an evil jest, and
they grumbled aloud at the impudence of the general who chose this
moment of terrible suspense for merriment. But now when the Goths were
close to the fosse, Belisarius lifted his bow, singled out a mail-clad
chief, and sent an arrow through his neck, inflicting a deadly wound. A
great shout of triumph rose from the Imperial soldiers as the proudly
accoutred barbarian rolled in the dust. Another shot, another Gothic
chief slain, and again a shout of triumph. Then the signal to shoot was
given to the soldiers, and hundreds of bolts from Wild Ass and _Balista_
were hurtling through the air, aimed not at Gothic soldiers, but at the
luckless oxen that drew the ponderous towers. The beasts being slain, it
was impossible for the Goths who were immediately under the walls and
exposed to a deadly discharge of arrows from the battlements, to move
their towers either backward or forward, and there they remained mere
laughing-stocks in their huge immobility, till the end of the day, when
they with all the rest of the Gothic enginery were given as a prey to
the flames. Then men understood the meaning of the laughter of
Belisarius as he watched the preparations of the barbarians and derided
their childish simplicity in supposing that he would allow them calmly
to move up their towers till they touched his wall, without using his
artillery to cripple their advance.

Though the attack with the towers had thus failed there was still fierce
fighting to be done on the south-east and north-west of the City. At the
Prænestine Gate (_Porta Maggiore_), that noble structure which is formed
out of the arcades of the Aqueducts, there was a desperate onslaught of
the barbarians, which at one time seemed likely to be successful, but a
sudden sortie of Belisarius taking them in their rear turned them to
headlong flight. In the opposite quarter the Aurelian Gate was commanded
by the mighty tomb-fortress then known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, and
now, in its dismantled and degraded state, as the Castle of Sant'Angelo.
Here the peculiar shape of the fortress prevented the defenders from
using their _Balistæ_ with proper effect on the advancing foe, and when
the besiegers were close under the walls the bolts from the engines flew
over their heads. It seemed as if, after all, by the Aurelian Gate the
barbarians would enter Rome, when, by a happy instinct, the garrison
turned to the marble statues which surrounded the tomb, wrenched them
from their bases, and rained down such a terrible shower of legs and
arms and heads of gods and goddesses on their barbarian assailants that
these soon fled in utter confusion.

The whole result of this great day of assault was to convince Witigis
and his counsellors that the City could not be taken in that manner, and
that the siege must be turned into a blockade. A general sally which
Belisarius ordered, against his better judgment, in order to still the
almost mutinous clamours of his troops, and which took place about the
fiftieth day of the siege, proved almost as disastrous for the Romans as
the assault had done for the Goths. It was manifest that this was not a
struggle which could be ended by a single blow on either side. All the
miseries of a long siege must be endured both by attackers and attacked,
and the only question was on which side patience would first give
way--whether the Romans under roofs, but short of provisions, or the
Goths better fed, but encamped on the deadly Campagna, would be the
first to succumb to hunger and disease.

Witigis had been in his day a brave soldier, but he evidently knew
nothing of the art of war. He allowed Belisarius to disencumber himself
of many useless consumers of food by sending the women, the children,
and the slaves out of the City. His attention was disturbed by feigned
attacks, when the reinforcements, which were tardily sent by Justinian,
and the convoys of provisions, which had been collected by the wife of
Belisarius, the martial Antonina, were to be brought within the walls.
And, lastly, when at length, about the ninth month of the siege, he
proposed a truce and the reopening of negotiations with Constantinople,
he did not even insert in the conditions of the truce any limit to the
quantity of supplies which under its cover the Imperialists might
introduce into the City. Thus he played the game of his wily antagonist,
and abandoned all the advantages--and they were not many--which the nine
months of blockade had won for him.

The parleyings which preceded this truce have an especial interest for
us, whose forefathers were at this very time engaged in making England
their own. The Goths, after complaining that Justinian had broken the
solemn compact made between Zeno and Theodoric as to the conquest of
Italy from Odovacar, went on to propose terms of compromise. "They were
willing", they said, "for the sake of peace to give up Sicily, that
large and wealthy island, so important to a ruler who had now become
master of Africa". Belisarius answered with sarcastic courtesy: "Such
great benefits should be repaid in kind. We will concede to the Goths
the possession of the whole island of Britain, which is much larger than
Sicily, and which was once possessed by the Romans as Sicily was once
possessed by the Goths". Of course that country, though much larger than
Sicily, was one the possession of which was absolutely unimportant to
the Emperor and his general. "What mattered it", they might well say,
"who owned that misty and poverty-stricken island. The oysters of
Rutupiæ, some fine watch-dogs from Caledonia, a little lead from the
Malvern Hills, and some cargoes of corn and wool--this was all that the
Empire had ever gained from her troublesome conquest. Even in the world
of mind Britain had done nothing more than give birth to one second-rate
heretic.[148] The curse of poverty and of barbarous insignificance was
upon her, and would remain upon her till the end of time".

[Footnote 148: Pelagius.]

The truce, as will be easily understood, brought no alleviation to the
sufferings of the Goths, who were now almost more besieged than
besiegers, and who were dying by thousands in the unhealthy Campagna.
Before the end of March, 538, they broke up their encampment, and
marched, in sullen gloom, northwards to defend Ravenna, which was
already being threatened by the operations of a lieutenant of
Belisarius. The 150,000 men who had hastened to Rome, dreading lest the
Imperialists should escape before they could encompass the City, were
reduced to but a small portion of that number, perhaps not many more
than the 10,000 which, after all his reinforcements had been received,
seems to have been the greatest number of actual soldiers serving under
Belisarius in the defence of Rome.

I pass rapidly over the events of 538 and 539. The Imperial generals
pressed northwards along the Flaminian Way. Urbino, Rimini, Osimo, and
other cities in this region were taken by them. But the Goths fought
hard, though they gave little proof of strategic skill; and once, when
they recaptured the great city of Milan, it looked as though they might
almost be about to turn the tide of conquest. Evidently they were far
less demoralised by their past prosperity than the Vandals. Perhaps also
the Roman population of Italy, who had met with far gentler and more
righteous treatment from the Ostrogoths than their compeers in Africa
had met with from the Vandals, and who were now suffering the horrors of
famine, owing to the operations of the contending armies, assisted the
operations of the Byzantine invaders less than the Roman provincials in
Africa had done. Whatever the cause, it was not till the early months of
540, nearly five years after the beginning of the war, that Belisarius
and his army stood before the walls and among the rivers of Ravenna,
almost the last stronghold of Witigis. Belisarius blockaded the city,
and his blockade was a far more stringent one than that which Witigis
had drawn around Rome. Still there was the ancient and well-founded
reputation for impregnability of the great Adrian city, and, moreover,
just at this time the ambassadors, sent by Witigis to Justinian,
returned from Constantinople, bearing the Emperor's consent to a
compromise. Italy, south of the Po, was to revert to the Empire; north
of that river, the Goths were still to hold it, and the royal treasure
was to be equally divided between the two states. Belisarius called a
council of war, and all his officers signed a written opinion "that the
proposals of the Emperor were excellent, and that no better terms could
be obtained from the Barbarians". This, however, was by no means the
secret thought of Belisarius, who had set his heart on taking Witigis as
a captive to Constantinople, and laying the keys of Ravenna at his
master's feet. A strange proposition which came from the beleaguered
city seemed to open the way to the accomplishment of his purpose. The
Gothic nobles suggested that he, the great Captain, whose might in war
they had experienced, should become their leader, should mount the
throne of Theodoric, and should be crowned "King of the Italians and
Goths", the change in the order of the names indicating the subordinate
position which the humbled barbarians were willing to assume. Belisarius
seemed to acquiesce in the proposal (though his secretary assures us
that he never harboured a thought of disloyalty to his master), and
received the oath of the Gothic envoys for the surrender of the city,
postponing his own coronation-oath to his new subjects till he could
swear it in the presence of Witigis and all his nobles, for Witigis,
too, was a consenting, nay, an eager, party to the transaction. Thus,
by an act of dissimulation, which brought some stain on his knightly
honour (we are tempted to use the language of chivalry in speaking of
these events), but which left no stain on his loyalty to the Emperor of
Rome, did Belisarius obtain possession of the impregnable Ravenna. He
marched in, he and his veterans, into the famine-stricken city. When the
Gothic women saw the little dark men filing past them through the
streets, and contrasted them with their own long-limbed, flaxen-haired
giants, they spat in the faces of their husbands, and said: "Are you
men, to have allowed yourselves to be beaten by such manikins as these?"

Before the triumphal entry was finished the Goths had no doubt
discovered that they were duped. No coronation oath was sworn.
Belisarius, still the humble servant of Justinianus Augustus, did not
allow himself to be raised on the shield and saluted as King of the
Italians and Goths. The Gothic warriors were kindly treated, but
dismissed to their farms between the Apennines and the Adriatic. Ravenna
was again an Imperial city, and destined to remain so for two centuries.
Witigis, with his wife and children, were carried captives to
Constantinople where, before many years were over, the dethroned monarch
died. His widow, Matasuentha, was soon remarried to Germanus, the nephew
of Justinian, and thus the granddaughter of Theodoric obtained that
position as a great lady of Byzantium which was far more gratifying to
her taste than the rude royalty of Ravenna.

There is one more personage whose subsequent fortunes must be briefly
glanced at here. Cassiodorus, the minister of Theodoric and
Amalasuentha, remained, as we regret to find, in the service of
Theodahad when sole king and composed his stilted sentences at the
bidding of Amalasuentha's murderer. Witigis also employed him to write
his address to his subjects on ascending the throne. He does not seem to
have taken any part in the siege of Rome, and before the tide of war
rolled back upon Ravenna, he had withdrawn from public affairs. He
retired to his native town, Squillace, high up on the Calabrian hills,
and there founded a monastery and a hermitage in the superintendence of
which his happy years glided on till he died, having nearly completed a
century of life. His was one of the first and greatest of the literary
monasteries which, by perpetuating copies of the Scriptures, and the
Greek and Roman classics, have conferred so great a boon on posterity.
When Ceolfrid, the Abbot of Jarrow, would offer to the Holy Father at
Rome a most priceless gift, he sent the far-famed Codex Amiatinus, a
copy of the Vulgate, made by a disciple of Cassiodorus, if not by
Cassiodorus himself.

[Illustration: GOLDEN SOLIDUS. (JUSTIN I. AND JUSTINIAN)]

[Illustration]




                          CHAPTER XVII.


                             TOTILA.

Misgovernment of Italy by Justinian's officers--The Gothic cause
revives--Accession of Ildibad--Of Eraric--Of Totila--Totila's character
and policy--His victorious progress--Belisarius sent again to Italy to
oppose him--Siege and capture of Rome by the Goths--The fortifications
of the City dismantled--Belisarius reoccupies it and Totila besieges it
in vain--General success of the Gothic arms--Belisarius returns to
Constantinople--His later fortunes--Never reduced to beggary.


With the fall of Ravenna, and the captivity of King Witigis, it seemed
as if the chapter of Ostrogothic dominion in Italy was ended. In fact,
however, the war was prolonged for a further period of thirteen years, a
time glorious for the Goths, disgraceful for the Empire, full of
lamentation and woe for the unhappy country which was to be the prize of
victory.

The departure of Belisarius, summoned to the East by his master in order
to conduct another Persian war, left the newly won provinces on an in
cline sloping downwards to anarchy. Of all the generals who remained
behind, brave and capable men as some of them were, there was none who
possessed the unquestioned ascendancy of Belisarius, either in genius or
character. Each thought himself as good as the others: there was no
subordination, no hearty co-operation towards a common end, but instead
of these necessary conditions of success there was an eager emulation in
the race towards wealth, and in this ignoble contest the unhappy
"Roman", the Italian landholder, for whose sake, nominally, the Gothic
war was undertaken, found himself pillaged and trampled upon as he had
never been by the most brutal of the barbarians.

Nor were the military officers the only offenders. A swarm of civil
servants flew westwards from Byzantium and lighted on the unhappy
country. Their duty was to extort money by any and all means for their
master, their pleasure to accumulate fortunes for themselves; but
whether the _logothete_ plundered for the Emperor or for himself, the
Italian tax-payer equally had the life-blood sucked from his veins. Even
the soldiers by whom the marvellous victories of the last five years had
been won, found themselves at the mercy of this hateful bureaucracy;
arrears of pay left undischarged, fines inflicted, everything done to
force upon their embittered souls the reflection that they had served a
mean and ungrateful master.

Of all these oppressors of Italy none was more justly abhorred than
Alexander the Logothete. This man, who was placed at the head of the
financial administration, and who seems by virtue of that position to
have been practically supreme in all but military operations, had been
lifted from a very humble sphere to eminence, from poverty to boundless
wealth, but the one justification which he could always offer for his
self-advancement was this, that no one else had been so successful as he
in filling the coffers of his master. The soldiers were, by his
proceedings against them, reduced to a poor, miserable, and despised
remnant. The Roman inhabitants of Italy, especially the nobles, found
that he hunted up with wonderful keenness and assiduity, and enforced
with relentless sternness all the claims--and they were probably not a
few--which the easy-tempered Gothic kings had suffered to lapse. In
their simplicity these nobles may have imagined that they could plead
that they were serving the Emperor by withholding contributions from the
barbarian. Not so, however. Theodoric, now that his dynasty had been
overthrown, became again a legitimate ruler, and Justinian as his heir
would exact to the uttermost his unclaimed rights. The nature of the
grasping logothete was well-known in his own country, and the
Byzantines, using the old Greek weapon of satire against an unpopular
ruler, called him "Alexander the Scissors", declaring that there was no
one so clever as he in clipping the gold coins of the currency without
impairing their roundness.

The result of all these oppressions and this misgovernment was to raise
up in a marvellous manner the Gothic standard from the dust into which
it had fallen. When Belisarius left Italy, only one city still remained
to the Goths, the strong city of Ticinum, which is now known as Pavia,
and which, from its magnificent position at the angle of the Ticino and
the Po, was often in the early Middle Ages the last stronghold to be
surrendered in Northwestern Italy. Here had the Goths chosen one of
their nobles, Ildibad, for their king, but the new king had but one
thousand soldiers under him, and his might well seem a desperate cause.
Before the end of 540, however, the departure of Belisarius, the
wrangling among his successors, the oppressions of Alexander the
Logothete, the disaffection of the ruined soldiery had completely
changed the face of affairs. An army of considerable size, consisting in
great measure of deserters from the Imperial standard, obeyed the orders
of Ildibad; he won a great pitched battle near Treviso over Vitalius,
the best of the Imperial generals, and the whole of Italy north of the
Po again owned the sway of the Gothic king.

Internal feuds delayed for a little time the revival of the strength of
the barbarians. There was strife between Ildibad and the family of the
deposed Witigis, and this strife led to Ildibad's assassination and to
the election of an utterly incapable successor, Eraric the Rugian. But
in the autumn of 541 all these domestic discords were at an end; Eraric
had been slain, and the nephew of Ildibad was the universally recognised
king of the Ostrogoths. This man, who was destined to reign for eleven
years, twice to stand as conqueror within the walls of Rome, to bring
back almost the whole of Italy under the dominion of his people, to be
in a scarcely lower degree than Theodoric himself the hero and champion
of the Ostrogothic race, was the young and gallant Totila.[149]

[Footnote 149: This is the form of the name which was known to the Greek
writers, and which is now irrevocably accepted by history. It is clear,
however, from his coins that the new king called himself Baduila, and we
cannot certainly say that he ever accepted the other designation.]

With true statesmanlike instinct the new king perceived that the cause
of the past failure of the Goths lay in the alienated affections of the
people of Italy. The greater misgovernment of the Emperor's servants,
the coldly calculating rapacity of Alexander the Scissors, and the
arrogant injustice of the generals, terrible only to the weak, had given
him a chance of winning back the love of the Italian people and of
restoring that happy state of things which prevailed after the downfall
of Odovacar, when all classes, nobles and peasants, Goths and Romans,
joined in welcoming Theodoric as their king. Totila therefore kept a
strong hand upon his soldiers, sternly repressed all plundering and
outrage, and insisted on the peasants being paid for all the stores
which the army needed on its march. One day a Roman inhabitant of
Calabria came before him to complain of one of the king's life-guardsmen
who had committed an outrage upon his daughter. The guardsman, not
denying the charge, was at once put in ward. Then the most influential
nobles assembled at the king's tent, and besought him not to punish a
brave and capable soldier for such an offence. Totila replied that he
mourned as much as they could do over the necessity of taking away the
life of one of his countrymen, but that the common good, the safety of
the nation, required this sacrifice. At the outset of the war they had
all the wealth of Italy and countless brave hearts at their disposal,
but all these advantages had availed them nothing because they had an
unjust king, Theodahad, at their head. Now the Divine favour on their
righteous cause seemed to be giving them the victory, but only by a
continuance in righteous deeds could they hope to secure it. With these
words he won over even the interceding Goths to his opinion. The
guardsman was sentenced to death, and his goods were confiscated for the
benefit of the maiden whom he had wronged.

At the same time that Totila showed himself thus gentle and just towards
the Roman inhabitants, he skilfully conducted the war so as to wound the
Empire in its tenderest part--finance. Justinian's aim, in Italy as in
Africa, was to make the newly annexed territory pay its own expenses and
hand over a good balance to the Imperial treasury. It was for this
purpose that the logothetes had been let loose upon Italy--that the
provincials had been maddened by the extortions of the tax-gatherer,
that the soldiers had been driven to mutiny and defection. Now with his
loyal and well disciplined troops, Totila moved over the country from
the Alps to Calabria, quietly collecting the taxes claimed by the
Emperor and the rents due to the refugee landlords, and in this way,
without oppressing the people, weakened the Imperial government and put
himself in a position to pay liberally for the commissariat of his army.
Thus the difficulties of the Imperial treasury increased. Justinian
became more and more unwilling to loosen his purse-strings for the sake
of a province which showed an ever-dwindling return. The pay of the
soldiers got more and more hopelessly into arrear. They deserted in
increasing numbers to the standard of the brave and generous young king
of the Goths. Hence, it came to pass, that in the spring of 544, when
Totila had been only for two and a half years king, he had gained two
pitched battles by land and one by sea, had taken Naples and Beneventum,
could march freely from one end of Italy to the other, and in fact, with
the exception of Ravenna, Rome, and a few other strongholds, had won
back from the Empire the whole of that Italy which had been acquired
with so much toil and so much bloodshed.

There was, of course, bitter disappointment in the council-chamber of
Justinian at this issue of an enterprise which had seemed at first so
successful. There was but one sentence on all men's lips--"Only
Belisarius can recover Italy", and it was uttered so loudly and so
universally, that the Emperor could not but hear it. But Justinian, ever
since the offer of the Western throne to Belisarius, seems to have
looked upon him with jealousy as a possible rival, and (what was even
more fatal to his interests at court), the Empress Theodora had come to
regard him with dislike and suspicion, partly because of a domestic
quarrel in which she had taken the part of his wife Antonina against
him, and partly because when Justinian was lying plague-stricken and
apparently at the point of death, Belisarius had discussed the question
of the succession to the throne in a manner which the Empress considered
hostile to her interests. For these reasons the great general had been
for some years in disgrace. A large part of his property was taken away
from him, and some of it was handed over to Antonina, with whom he had
been ordered to reconcile himself on the most humbling terms: his great
military household, containing many men of servile origin, whom he had
trained to such deeds of valour that it was a common saying, "One
household alone has destroyed the kingdom of Theodoric", was broken up,
and those brave men who would willingly have died for their chief, were
portioned out by lot among the other generals and the eunuchs of the
palace.

Still, in deference to the unanimous opinion of his counsellors,
Justinian decided once more to avail himself of the services of
Belisarius for the reconquest of Italy. But his unquenched jealousy of
his great general's fame, and the almost bankrupt condition of the
Imperial exchequer converged to the same point, and caused Justinian,
while entrusting Belisarius with the command, to couple with it the
monstrous stipulation that he was not to ask for any money for the war.
And this, though it was clear to all men that the want of money and the
consequent desertion of the Imperial standard by whole companies of
grumbling barbarians, had been one main cause of the amazing success of
Totila. Thus crippled by his master, and having his own spirit broken by
Imperial ingratitude and domestic unhappiness, Belisarius, in the whole
course of his second command in Italy, which lasted for five
years--(544-549) did nothing, or I should rather say only one thing,
worthy of his former reputation. This is the judgment which his former
friend and admirer, Procopius, passes on this period of his life. "Thus
then", (in 549) "Belisarius departed to Byzantium without glory, having
been for five years in Italy, but having never been strong enough to
make a regular march by land in all that time, but having flitted about
from one fortress on the coast to another, and so left the enemy free to
capture Rome and almost every other place which they attacked".

Notwithstanding this harsh sentence, it was in connection with the siege
of Rome that the old Belisarius, the man of infinite resource and
courageous dexterity, once more revealed himself, and while we gladly
let all the other events of these five tedious years glide into
oblivion, it is worth while devoting a few pages to the Second and Third
Gothic sieges of Rome.

Totila had quite determined not to repeat the mistake of Witigis, by
dashing his army to pieces against the walls of Rome, but, for all that,
he could not feel his recovery of Italy to be complete so long as the
Eternal City defied his power. He therefore slowly tightened his grasp
on the City, capturing one town after another in its neighbourhood and
watching the roads to prevent convoys of provisions from entering it.
He was on good terms with the peasants of the surrounding country, paid
liberally for all the provisions required by his army (far smaller than
that of Witigis), and kept his soldiers in good heart and in high
health, while the unhappy citizens were seeing the great
enemy--Famine--slowly approach nearer and nearer to their homes.

Within the City there was now no such provident and resourceful general
as Belisarius. Bessas, the commandant, himself an Ostrogoth of Mœsia by
birth, was a brave man, but coarse, selfish, and unfeeling. Intent only
on filling his own coffers by selling the corn which he had stored up in
his warehouses at a famine-price to the citizens, he was not touched by
the increasing misery around him, and made no effectual attempt to break
the net which Totila had drawn round Rome. Belisarius himself, "flitting
from point to point of the coast", had come to Portus eighteen miles
from Rome, at the mouth of the Tiber. It was no want of good-will on his
part that prevented him from bringing his provision-ships up the river
to the help of the famished City, but about four miles above Portus
Totila had placed a strong boom of timber, protected in front by an iron
chain and guarded by two towers, one at each end of the bridge which was
above the boom. Belisarius made his preparations for destroying the
boom: a floating tower as high as the bridge placed on two barges, a
large vessel filled with "Greek fire" at the top of the tower, soldiers
below to hew the boom in pieces and sever the chain, a long train of
merchantmen behind laden with provisions for the hungry Romans, and
manned by archers who poured a deadly volley of arrows on the defenders
of the bridge. All went well with his design up to a certain point. The
chain was severed, the Goths fell fast under the arrows from the ships,
the vessel of "Greek fire" was hurled upon one of the forts, which was
soon wrapped in flames. With might and main the Imperial soldiers began
to hack at the boom, and it seemed as if in a few minutes the corn-laden
vessels would be sailing up the Tiber, bringing glad relief to the
starving citizens. But just at that moment a horseman galloped up to
Belisarius with the unwelcome tidings--"Isaac is taken prisoner". Isaac
the Armenian was Belisarius' second in command, whom he had left at
Portus in charge of his stores, his munitions of war, and most important
of all, the now reconciled Antonina. In spite of Belisarius' strict
injunction to act solely on the defensive, Isaac, watching from afar the
successful movements of his chief, had sallied forth to attack the
Gothic garrison at Ostia on the opposite bank of the river. His defeat
and consequent capture were events of little moment in themselves, but
all-important as arresting the victorious career of Belisarius. For to
the anxious soul of the general the capture of Isaac seemed to mean the
capture of Portus, the cutting off of his army from their base of
operations, the captivity of his beloved Antonina. He gave the signal
for retreat; the attempt to provision Rome had failed; the Imperial army
returned to Portus. When he found what it was that had really happened,
and by what a combination of folly and ill luck he had been prevented
from winning a splendid victory, his annoyance was so great that
combined with the unwholesome air of the Campagna it threw him into a
fever which brought him near to death and prevented him for some months
from taking any part in the war.

Meanwhile dire famine bore sway in the beleaguered city. Wheat was sold
for £22 a quarter, and the greater part of the citizens were thankful
to live on coarse bread made of bran, which was doled out to them by
Bessas at a quarter of the price of wheat. Before long even this bran
became a luxury beyond their power to purchase. Dogs and mice provided
them with their only meals of flesh, but the staple article of food was
nettles. With blackened skin and drawn faces, mere ghosts of their
former selves, the once proud and prosperous citizens of Rome wandered
about the waste places where these nettles grew, and often one of them
would be found dead with hunger, his strength having suddenly failed him
while attempting to gather his wretched meal.

At length this misery was suddenly ended. Some Isaurian soldiers who
were guarding the Asinarian Gate in the south-east of the City made
overtures to the Gothic soldiers for the betrayal of their post. These
Isaurians were probably part of the former garrison of Naples whom
Totila had treated with great generosity after the surrender of that
city. They remembered the kindness then shown them; they were weary of
the siege, and disgusted with the selfish avarice of their generals, and
they soon came to terms with the besiegers. Four of the bravest Goths
being hoisted over the walls at night by the friendly Isaurians, ran
round to the Asinarian Gate, battered its bolts and bars to pieces, and
let in their waiting comrades. Unopposed, the Gothic army marched
in,[150] unresisting, the Imperial troops marched out by the Flaminian
Gate. The play was precisely the same that had been enacted ten years
before when Belisarius won the city from Leudaris, but with the parts
reversed. What Witigis with his one hundred and fifty thousand Goths had
failed to accomplish, an army of not more than a tenth of that
number[151] had accomplished under Totila. Bessas and the other generals
fled headlong with the rest of the crowd that pressed out of the
Flaminian Gate, and the treasure, accumulated with such brutal disregard
of human suffering, fell into the hands of the besiegers.

[Footnote 150: 17th December, 546.]

[Footnote 151: Apparently, but we do not seem to have a precise
statement of the numbers of Totila's army at this time.]

At first murder and plunder raged unchecked through the streets of the
City, the exasperation which had been caused by the events of the long
siege having made every Gothic heart bitter against Rome and Romans. But
after sixty citizens had been slain, Totila, who had gone to St. Peter's
to offer up his prayers and thanksgivings, listened to the intercession
of the deacon Pelagius[152] and commanded that slaughter should cease.
But there were only five hundred citizens left in Rome to receive the
benefit of the amnesty, so great had been the depopulation of the City
by war and famine.[153]

[Footnote 152: Pelagius was at this time, owing to the absence of Pope
Vigilius on a journey to Constantinople, the most influential
ecclesiastic in Rome, and eight years later he succeeded Vigilius in the
Papal Chair]

[Footnote 153: At a certain point of the siege the non-combatants had
been sent out of the City by Bessas, but the number of those who passed
safely through the lines of the besiegers was not great.]

And now had come a fateful moment in the history of Roma Æterna. A
conqueror stood within her walls, not in mere joyousness of heart like
Alaric, pleased with the exploit of bringing to her knees the mistress
of the world, not intent on vulgar plans of plunder like Gaiseric, but
nourishing a deep and deadly hatred against that false and ungrateful
City, and, by the ghosts of a hundred and fifty thousand of his
countrymen who had died before her untaken walls, beckoned on a
memorable revenge. Totila would spare, as he had promised, the lives of
the trembling citizens, but he had determined that Rome herself should
perish. The walls should be dismantled, the public buildings burned to
the ground, and sheep should graze again over the seven hills of the
City as they had grazed thirteen hundred years before, when Romulus and
Remus were suckled by the wolf. From this purpose, however, he was moved
by the intercession of Belisarius, who, from his couch of fever, wrote a
spirit-stirring letter to Totila, pleading for Rome, greatest and most
glorious of all cities that the sun looked down upon, the work not of
one king nor one century, but of long ages and many generations of noble
men. Belisarius concluded with an appeal to the Gothic king to consider
what should be his own eternal record in history, whether he would
rather be remembered as the preserver or the destroyer of the greatest
city in the world.

This appeal, made by one hero to another, was successful. Totila was
still bent on preventing the City from ever again becoming a stronghold
of the enemy, and therefore determined to lay one-third of the walls
level with the ground, but he assured the messengers of Belisarius that
he would leave the great monuments of Rome untouched. Having
accomplished the needed demolition of her defences, he marched forth
with his army from the desolate and sepulchral City and took up a
position in the Alban Mountains, which are seen by the dwellers in Rome
far off on their south-eastern horizon.

When Totila withdrew Rome was left, we are told, absolutely devoid of
inhabitants.[154] The Senators he kept in his camp as hostages, and all
the less influential citizens with their wives and children were sent
away to the confines of Campania. For forty days or more the great City
which had been for so long the heart of the human universe, the city
which, with the million-fold tide of life throbbing in her veins, had
most vividly prefigured the London of our own day, remained "waste and
without inhabitants", as desolate as Anderida in Kent had been left half
a century before by her savage Saxon conquerors.

[Footnote 154: As the passage is an important one I will give a literal
translation of the words of Procopius ("De Bell. Gotthico", iii., 22):
"Of the Romans, however, he kept the members of the Senate with him, but
sent away all the others with their wives and children to the regions
bordering on Campania, having permitted not a single human being to
remain in Rome, but having left her absolutely desolate". έν Ροόμη
ανθρωπον ούδένα έάσας, άλλ́ έρημον αύτήν τό παράπαν άπολιποόν.

The contemporary chronicler Marcellinus Comes confirms this statement:
"Post quam devastationem XL. aut amplius dies Roma fuit ita desolata ut
nemo ibi hominum nisi bestiæ morarentur".]

And then came another change--one of the most marvellous in the history
of that City whose whole life has been a marvel. While Totila abode in
his camp on the Alban Hills, Belisarius, rising from the bed to which
fever had for so many weeks chained him, made a visit to Rome,
accompanied by a thousand soldiers, that he might see with his own eyes
into what depth of calamity she had fallen. At first, it would seem,
mere curiosity led him to the ruined City, but when he was there, gazing
on Totila's work of devastation, a brilliant thought flashed through his
brain. After all the demolitions of Totila, the ruin was not
irretrievable. By repairing the rents in the walls, Rome might yet be
made defensible. He would re-occupy it, and the Goths should find that
they had all their work to do over again. The idea seemed at first to
his counsellors like the suggestion of delirium, but as it rapidly took
shape under his hands, it was recognised as being indeed a masterstroke
of well-calculated audacity. Leaving a small body of men to guard his
base of operations at Portus, he moved every available man to Rome,
crowded them up to the gaps made by Totila, bade them build anyhow, with
any sort of material--mortar was out of the question; it must be mere
dry walling that they could accomplish,--only let them preserve some
semblance of an upright wall, and crown the summit of it with a rampart
of stakes. The deep fosse below fortunately remained as it was, not
filled up. So in five and twenty days the circuit of the walls was
completed, truly in a most slovenly style of building, the marks of
which we can see even to this day, but Rome was once again a "fenced
city". As soon as Totila heard the unwelcome tidings, he marched with
his whole army to Rome, hoping to take the City, as his soldiers said,
"at the first shout". But he had Belisarius to deal with, not Bessas.
There had not yet been time even to make new gates for the City instead
of those which Totila had destroyed, but Belisarius planted all his
bravest soldiers in the void places where the gates should be, and
guarded the approach by caltrops (somewhat like those wherewith Bruce
defended his line at Bannockburn), so as to make a charge of Gothic
cavalry impossible. Three long days of hard-fought battle were spent
round the fateful City. In each the Goths, whatever temporary advantages
they might gain, were finally repulsed, and at length Totila, who was
not going to repeat the error of Witigis, marched away from the too
well-known scene, amid the bitter reproaches of the Gothic nobles, who
before had praised him like a god for all his valour and dexterity in
war, but now, on the morrow of his first great blunder, loudly upbraided
him for his imprudence, adding the obvious and easy piece of Epimethean
criticism, "that the City ought either to have been utterly destroyed,
or else occupied with a sufficient force". Meanwhile Belisarius at his
leisure completed the repair of the walls, hung the massive gates on
their hinges, had keys made to fit their locks, and sent the duplicate
keys to Justinian. The Roman Empire once again had Rome.

And yet this re-occupation of the Eternal City, brilliant and striking
achievement as it was, had little influence on the course of the war.
Rome was now like a great stone left in an alluvial plain showing where
the river had once flowed, but the currents of commerce, of politics, of
war, flowed now in other channels. Belisarius, leaving a garrison in
Rome, had to betake himself once more to that desultory warfare,
flitting round the coast from one naval fortress to another, in which
the earlier years of his second command had been passed; and at length,
early in 549, only two years after his re-occupation of Rome, he
obtained as a great favour, through the intercession of Antonina,
permission to resign his command and return to Constantinople. It was on
this occasion that Procopius passed that harsh judgment as to the
inglorious character of these later operations of his in Italy, which
was quoted on a previous page.[155]

[Footnote 155: See page 349.]

I will briefly summarise the subsequent events in the life of the old
hero:

Once more, ten years after the return of Belisarius (in 559), his
services were claimed by Justinian in order to repel a horde of savage
Huns who had penetrated within eighteen miles of Constantinople. The
work was brilliantly done, with much of the old ingenuity and fertility
of resource which had marked his first campaign in Italy, and then
Belisarius relapsed into inactivity. He was again accused (562),
probably without justice, of abetting a conspiracy against the Emperor,
was disgraced and imprisoned in his own palace. After seven months he
was restored to the Imperial favour, the falsity of the accusation
against him having probably become apparent. He died in 565, in about
the sixtieth year of his age, and only a few months before his jealous
master. He had more than once had to endure the withdrawal of that
master's confidence, and some portions of his vast wealth were on two
occasions taken from him. But this is all that can be truly said as to
the reverses of fortune undergone by the conqueror of the Vandals and
the Goths. The stories of his blindness and of his beggary, of his
holding forth a wooden bowl and whining out "_Date obolum Belisario_",
rest on no good foundation, and either arise from a confusion between
Belisarius and another disgraced minister of Justinian, or else are
simply due to the myth-making industry of the Middle Ages.

[Illustration: COIN OF BADUILA. (TOTILA.)]

[Illustration]




                          CHAPTER XVIII.


                              NARSES.

Totila again takes Rome--High-water mark of the success of the Gothic
arms--Narses, the Emperor's Chamberlain, appointed to command another
expedition for the recovery of Italy--His character--His semi-barbarous
army--Enters Italy--Battle of the Apennines--Totila slam--End of the
Gothic dominion in Italy.


[Illustration]

Soon after the return of Belisarius to Constantinople
came the Fourth Siege of Rome. Totila, who had sought the hand of a
Frankish princess in marriage, received for answer from her father,
"that the man who had not been able to keep Rome when he had taken it,
but had destroyed part and abandoned the rest to the enemy, was no King
of Italy".[156]

[Footnote 156: Procopius, "De Bello Gotthico", iii., 37. This is one of
the passages which make me somewhat doubtful whether we are not too
confident in our denial of the title "King of Italy" to Odovacar and
Theodoric. The words are clear.]

The taunt stung Totila to the quick. We know not whether he won his
Frankish bride or no, but he was determined to win Rome. Assault again
failing, he occupied Portus and instituted a more rigorous blockade than
ever. But it had become a matter of some difficulty to starve out the
defenders of Rome, for there were practically no citizens there, only a
garrison, for whose food the corn grown within the enclosure of the
walls was nearly sufficient. The economic change from the days of the
Empire thus revealed to us is almost as great as if the harvests of Hyde
Park and Regent's Park sufficed to feed the diminished population of
London.

There was, however, among the Imperial soldiers in the garrison of Rome,
as elsewhere, deep discontent, amounting sometimes to mutiny, at the
long withholding of their arrears of pay; and the sight of the pomp and
splendour, which surrounded the former betrayer of Rome when they rode
in the ranks with Totila, was too much for their Isaurian countrymen.
The men who kept watch by the Gate of St. Paul (close to the Pyramid of
C. Sestius, and now overlooking the English Cemetery and Keats' grave)
offered to surrender their post to the Gothic king. To distract the
attention of the garrison he sent by night a little band of soldiers on
two skiffs up the Tiber as far as they could penetrate towards the heart
of the City. These men blew a loud blast with their trumpets, and
thereby called the bulk of the defenders down to the river-walls, while
the Isaurians were opening St. Paul's Gate to the besiegers, who marched
in almost unopposed. The garrison galloped off along the road to Civita
Vecchia, and on their way fell into an ambush which Totila had prepared
for them, whereby most of them perished (549).

Totila, now a second time master of Rome, determined to hold it
securely. He restored some of the public buildings which he had
previously destroyed; he adorned and beautified the City to the utmost
of his power; he invited the Senators and their families to return; he
celebrated the equestrian games in the Circus Maximus: in all things he
behaved himself as much as possible like one of the old Emperors of
Rome.

The year 550 was the high-water mark of the success of the Gothic arms.
In Italy only four cities--all on the sea-coast--were left to the
Emperor; these were Ravenna, Ancona, Otranto, and Crotona. In Sicily
most of the cities were still Imperial, but Totila had moved freely
hither and thither through the island, ravaging the villas and the
farms, collecting great stores of grain and fruit, driving off horses
and cattle, and generally visiting on the hapless Sicilians the
treachery which in his view they had shown to the Ostrogothic dynasty by
the eagerness with which, fifteen years before, they had welcomed the
arms of Belisarius.

But at the end of a long and exhausting war it is often seen that
victory rests with that power which has enough reserve force left to
make one final effort, even though that effort in the earlier years of
the war might not have been deemed a great one. So was it now with
Justinian's conquest of Italy. Though he himself was utterly weary of
the Sisyphean labour, he would not surrender a shred of his theoretical
claims, nor would he even condescend to admit to an audience the
ambassadors of Totila, who came to plead for peace and alliance between
the two hostile powers.

In his perplexity as to the further conduct of the war he offered the
command to his Grand Chamberlain Narses, who eagerly accepted it. The
choice was indeed a strange one. Narses, an Armenian by birth, brought
as an eunuch to Constantinople, and dedicated to the service of the
palace, had grown grey in that service, and was now seventy-four years
of age. But he was of "Illustrious" rank, he shared the most secret
counsels of the Emperor, he was able freely to unloose the purse-strings
which had been so parsimoniously closed to Belisarius, and he had set
his whole heart on succeeding where Belisarius had failed. Moreover, he
was himself both wealthy and generous, and he brought with him a huge
and motley host of barbarians, Huns, Lombards, Gepids, Herulians, all
eager to serve under the free-handed Chamberlain, and to be enriched by
him with the spoil of Italy.

In the spring of 552, the Eunuch-general, with this strange multitude
calling itself a Roman army, marched round the head of the Adriatic Gulf
and entered the impregnable seat of Empire, Ravenna. By adroit strategy
he evaded the Gothic generals who had been ordered to arrest his
progress in North-eastern Italy and--probably by about midsummer--he had
reached the point a little south-west of Ancona, where the Flaminian
Way, the great northern road from Rome, crosses the Apennines. Here on
the crest of the mountains[157] Narses encamped, and here Totila met
him, eager for the fight which was to decide the future dominion of
Italy.

[Footnote 157: There is some little difference of opinion as to the site
of this battle. I place it near the Roman posting station of Ad Ensem,
represented by the modern village of Scheggia, in latitude 43º 25'
north.]

A space of about twelve miles separated the hostile camps. Narses sent
some of his most trusted counsellors to warn Totila not to continue the
struggle any longer against the irresistible might of the Empire; "but
if you will fight", said the messengers, "name the day". Totila
indignantly spurned the proposal of surrender and named the eighth day
from thence as the day of battle. Narses, however, suspecting some
stratagem, bade his troops prepare for action, and it was well that he
did so, for on the next day Totila with all his army was at hand.

A hill, which to some extent commanded the battle-field, was the first
objective point of both generals. Narses sent fifty of his bravest men
over-night to take up their position on this hill, and the Gothic
troops, chiefly cavalry, which were sent to dislodge them, failed to
effect their purpose, the horses being frightened by the din which the
Imperial soldiers made, clashing with their spears upon their shields.
Several lives were lost on this preliminary skirmish, the honours of
which remained with the soldiers of Narses.

At dawn of day the troops were drawn up in order of battle, but Narses
had made all his arrangements on a defensive rather than an offensive
plan and Totila, who was expecting a reinforcement of two thousand
Goths under his brave young lieutenant Teias, wished to postpone the
attack. Both generals harangued their armies: Totila, in words of lordly
scorn for the patch-work host of various nationalities which Justinian,
weary of the war, had sent against him. It was the Emperor's last
effort, he declared, and when this heterogeneous army was defeated, the
brave Goths would be able to rest from their labours. Narses, on the
other hand, congratulated his soldiers on their evident superiority in
numbers to the Gothic host. They fought too, as he reminded them, for
the Roman Empire, which was in its nature, and by the will of
Providence, eternal, while these little barbarian states, Vandal,
Gothic, and the like, sprang up like mushrooms, lived their little day,
and then vanished away, leaving no trace behind them. He had recourse
also to less refined and philosophical arguments. Riding rapidly along
the ranks, the Eunuch dangled before the eyes of his barbarian
auxiliaries golden armlets, golden collars, golden bridles. "These",
said he, "and such other ornaments as these, shall be the reward of your
valour, if you fight well to-day".

The long morning of waiting was partly occupied by a duel between two
chosen champions. A warrior, named Cocas, who had deserted from Emperor
to King, rode up to the Imperial army, challenging their bravest to
single combat. One of Narses' lifeguards, an Armenian' like his master,
Anzalas by name, accepted the challenge. Cocas couched his spear and
rode fiercely at his foe, thinking to pierce him in the belly. Anzalas
dexterously swerved aside at the critical moment and gave a thrust with
his spear at the left side of his antagonist, who fell lifeless to the
ground. A mighty shout rose from the Imperial ranks at this propitious
omen of the coming battle. Not yet, however, was that battle to be
gained. King Totila rode forth in the open space between both armies,
"that he might show the enemy what manner of man he was". His armour was
lavishly adorned with gold: from the cheek-piece of his helmet, from his
_pilum_ and his spear hung purple pennants; his whole equipment was
magnificent and kingly. Bestriding a very tall war-horse he played the
game of a military athlete with accomplished skill. He wheeled his horse
first to the right, then to the left, in graceful curves; then he tossed
his spear on high to the morning breezes and caught it in the middle as
it descended with quivering fall; then he threw it deftly from one hand
to another, he stooped low on his horse, he raised himself up again.
Everything was done as artistically as the dance of a well-trained
performer. All this "was beautiful to look at, but it was not war". The
ugly, wrinkled old Armenian in the other camp, who probably kept his
seat on horseback with difficulty, knew, one may suspect, more of the
deadly science of war than the brilliant and martial Totila.

At length the long-looked-for two thousand arrived, and Totila gave the
signal to charge upon the foe. It was the hour of the noon-tide meal,
and he hoped to catch the Imperial troops in the disorder of their
repast; but for this also Narses, the wary, had provided. Even the food
necessary to support their strength was to be taken by the soldiers, all
keeping their ranks, all armed, and all watching intently the movements
of the enemy. Narses had purposely somewhat weakened his centre in order
to strengthen his wings, which, as the Gothic cavalry charged, closed
round them and poured a deadly shower of arrows into their flanks.
Again, as in the campaigns of Belisarius, the _Hippo-toxotai_, the
"Mounted Rifles" of the Empire, decided the fate of the battle. Vain
against their murderous volleys was the valour of the Gothic horseman,
the thrust of the Gothic lance, the might of the tall Gothic steed.
Charge upon charge of the Goths was made in vain; the cavalry could
never reach the weak but distant centre of the Imperialists. At length,
when the sun was declining, the horsemen came staggering back, a
disorganised and beaten band. Their panic communicated itself to the
infantry, who were probably the weakest section of the army; the rout
was complete, and the whole of the Gothic host was seen either flying,
surrendering, or dying.

As evening fell Totila, with five of his friends hastened from the lost
battle-field. A young Gepid chief, named Asbad, ignorant who he was
couched his lance to strike Totila in the back. A young Gothic page
incautiously cried out, "Dog! would you strike your lord?" hereby
revealing the rank of the fugitive and, of course, only nerving the arm
of Asbad to strike a more deadly blow. Asbad was wounded in return and
his companions intent on staunching his wound let the fugitives ride on,
but the wound of Totila was mortal. His friends hurried him on, eight
miles down the valley, to the little village of Capræ, where they
alighted and strove to tend his wound. But their labour was vain; the
gallant king soon drew his last breath and was hastily buried by his
comrades in that obscure hamlet.

The Romans knew not what had become of their great foe till several days
after, when some soldiers were riding past the village, a Gothic woman
told them of the death of Totila and pointed out to them his grave. They
doubted the truth of her story, but opened the grave and gazed their
fill on that which was, past all dispute, the corpse of Totila. The news
brought joy to the heart of Narses, who returned heartiest thanks to God
and to the Virgin, his especial patroness, and then proceeded to
disembarrass himself as quickly as possible of the wild barbarians,
especially the Lombards, by whose aid he had won the victory which
destroyed the last hopes of the Ostrogothic monarchy in Italy.[158]

[Footnote 158: A gallant stand was made by Teias, who was elected king
on the death of Totila, but his reign lasted only a few months. He was
defeated and slain early in 553 at the battle of Mons Lactarius, not far
from Pompeii, and the little remnant of his followers, the last of the
Goths, marched northward out ot Italy and disappear from history.]

(568) Not thus easily, however, was the tide of barbarian invasion to be
turned. The Lombards had found their way into Italy as auxiliaries. They
returned thither sixteen years after as conquerors, conquerors the most
ruthless and brutal that Italy had yet groaned under. From that day for
thirteen centuries the unity of Italy was a dream. First the Lombard
King and the Byzantine Emperor tore her in pieces. Then the Frank
descended from the Alps to join in the fray. The German, the Saracen,
the Norman made their appearance on the scene. Not all wished to ravage
and despoil; some had high and noble purposes in their hearts, but, in
fact, they all tended to divide her. The Popes even at their best, even
while warring as Italian patriots against the foreign Emperor, still
divided their country. Last of all came the Spaniard and the Austrian,
by whom, down to our own day, Italy was looked upon as an estate, out of
which kingdoms and duchies might be carved at pleasure as appanages for
younger sons and compensations for lost provinces. Only at length,
towards the close of the nineteenth century, has Italy regained that
priceless boon of national unity, which might have been hers before it
was attained by any other country in Europe, if only the ambition of
emperors and the false sentiment of "Roman" patriots would have spared
the goodly tree which had been planted in Italian soil by Theodoric the
Ostrogoth.

[Illustration: COIN OF TEIAS. (successor of Totila.)]

[Illustration:]




                         CHAPTER XIX.[159]

[Footnote 159: This chapter is based on Peringskiold's Latin translation
of the "Wilkina Saga", and on the German translation contained in F.H.
von der Hagen's "Alt-deutsche und Alt-nordische Helden-Sagen". I am also
much indebted to the spirited rendering of the Sagas contributed by
Madame Dahn to her husband, Professor Dahn's, volume, "Walhall".]


                       THE THEODORIC OF SAGA.

The fame of Theodoric attested by the Saga dealing with his name,
utterly devoid as they are of historic truth--The Wilkma Saga--Story of
Theodoric's ancestors--His own boyhood--His companions, Master
Hildebrand, Heime, and Witig--Death of his father and his succession to
the throne--Herbart wooes King Arthur's daughter, first for Theodoric
and then for himself--Hermanric, his uncle, attacks Theodoric--Flight
and exile at the Court of Attila--Attempt to return--Attila's sons slain
in battle--The tragedy of the Nibelungs--Theodoric returns to his
kingdom--His mysterious end.


It is one of the most striking testimonies to the greatness of
Theodoric's work and character, that his name is one of the very few
which passed from history into the epic poetry of the German and
Scandinavian peoples. True, there is scarcely one feature of the great
Ostrogothic King preserved in the mythical portrait painted by minstrels
and Sagamen; true, Theodoric of Verona would have listened in
incredulous or contemptuous amazement to the romantic adventures related
of Dietrich of Bern; still the fact that his name was chosen by the
poets of the early Middle Ages as the string upon which the pearls of
their fantastic imaginations were to be strung, shows how powerfully his
career had impressed their barbaric forefathers. Theodoric's eminence in
this respect, his renown in mediæval Saga, is shared apparently but by
three other undoubtedly historic personages: his collateral ancestor,
Hermanric; the great world-conqueror, Attila; and Gundahar, king of the
Burgundians, about whom history really records nothing, save his defeat
in battle by the Huns.

As it would be a hopeless attempt in a short chapter like the present to
discuss the various allusions to Dietrich von Bern in the Teutonic and
Scandinavian Sagas, I shall invite the reader's attention to one only,
that which concerns itself most exclusively with his life, and which is
generally called the "Wilkina Saga",[160] though some German scholars
prefer to call it by the more appropriate name of "Thidreks Saga".

[Footnote 160: So called because it contains a large number of episodes
as to King Wilkinus, his descendants, and the land known by his name,
Wilkina-land (Norway and Sweden). Some suppose the name to be a
corruption of Viking.]

The earliest manuscripts of this Saga at present known are attributed to
the first half of the thirteenth century. There are many allusions in
the work to other sources of information both written and oral, but the
Saga itself in its present form appears to contain the story of
Theodoric as current in the neighbourhood of Bremen and Münster,
translated into the old Norse language, and no doubt somewhat modified
by the influence of Scandinavian legends on the mind of the translator.
In its present form it is not a poem but a prose work, and though the
flow of the ballad and the twang of the minstrel's harp still often make
themselves felt even through the dull Latin translation of Johan
Peringskiold, there are many chapters of absolutely unredeemed prose,
full of genealogical details and the marches of armies, as dry as any
history, though purely imaginary.

I will now proceed to give the outline of the story of Theodoric as told
in the "Wilkina Saga", I shall not harass the reader by continual
repetitions of the phrase "It is said", or "It is fabled", but will ask
him to understand once for all that the story so circumstantially told
is a mere romance, having hardly the slenderest connection with the
actual history of Theodoric, or with any other event that has happened
on our planet.

The Knight Samson, the grandfather of Theodoric, was a native of Salerno
and served in the court of Earl Roger, the lord of that city Tall and
dark, with black brows and long, thin face, he was distinguished by
great personal strength, and his ambition was equal to his prowess. Earl
Roger had a most lovely daughter, Hildeswide, to whom Samson dared to
raise his eyes in love. Being sent one day by her father to the tower
where she dwelt, with dainty morsels from his table for her repast, he
persuaded her to mount his servant's horse and ride away with him into
the forest. For this Earl Roger confiscated his possessions and sought
his life. Enraged at the decree of exile and death which had been passed
against him, Samson issued forth from his forest to ravage Earl Roger's
farms. In his return to the forest, being intercepted by the Earl and
sixty of his knights, he was seized with sudden fury, and struck down
the Earl's standard-bearer, dealt so terrible a blow at the Earl that he
lopped off not only his head but that of the steed on which he rode,
slew fifteen knights besides, and then galloped off, himself unwounded,
to the forest where Hildeswide abode. Thus did Salerno lose her lord.

Brunstein, the brother of Earl Roger, sought to avenge his death, but
after two years of desultory warfare was himself surprised in a night
attack by Samson, compelled to flee, overtaken and slain. So Samson went
on and increased in strength, treading down all his enemies; but not
till he had persuaded the citizens of Salerno to accept him as their
lord would he assume the title of king. Then did he send out messengers
to announce to all the other kingdoms of the world his royal dignity. He
governed long and wisely, extending his dominions to the vast regions of
the West (apparently making himself lord of all Italy), and by his wife
Hildeswide becoming the father of two sons, whose names were Hermanric
and Dietmar.

After twenty years of wise and peaceful rule, as Samson sat feasting in
his palace he began to lament the decay of energy in himself and his
warriors, and to fear that his name and fame would perish after his
death. He therefore resolved on war with Elsung, Earl of Verona, and to
that end despatched six ambassadors with this insulting message: "Send
hither thy daughter to be the concubine of my youngest son. Send sixty
damsels with her, and sixty noble youths each bringing two horses and a
servant. Send sixty hawks and sixty retrievers, whose collars shall be
of pure gold, and let the leash with which they are bound be made of
hairs out of thine own white beard. Do this, or in three months prepare
for war".

This insolent demand produced the expected result. Elsung ordered the
leader of the embassy to be hung. Four of his companions were beheaded.
The sixth, having had his right hand lopped off, was sent back with no
other answer to Salerno. When he reached that city, Samson appeared to
treat the matter as of no importance and went on with his hunting and
hawking and all the amusements of a peaceful court. He was, however,
quietly making his preparations for war, and at the end of three months,
at the head of an army of 15,000 men, commanded by three under-kings and
many dukes he burst into the territories of Earl Elsung who had only
10,000 men, drawn from Hungary and elsewhere, with whom to meet his
powerful foe. There was great slaughter on the battle-plain. Then the
two chiefs met in single combat. Elsung inflicted a wound on Samson, but
Samson cut off Elsung's head and clutching it by the hoary locks
exhibited it in triumph to his men. The utter rout of the Veronese army
followed. Samson went in state to Verona, received the submission of the
citizens and laid hands on the splendid treasure of Earl Elsung. He
then celebrated with great pomp the marriage of Odilia, the daughter of
the slain earl, to his second son Dietmar, whom he made lord of Verona
and all the territory which had been Elsung's. He marched next toward
"Romaborg" (Rome) intending to make his eldest son, Hermanric, lord of
that city, but died on the journey. Hermanric, however, after many
battles with the Romans achieved the desired conquest, and became Lord
of Romaborg and the country round it, even to the Hellespont and the
isles of Greece.

Dietmar, son of Samson, King of Verona, was brave, prudent, and greatly
loved by the folk over whom he ruled. His wife Odilia was one of the
wisest of women. Their eldest son was named Theodoric, and he, when full
grown, though not one of the race of giants, surpassed all ordinary men
in stature. His face was oval, of comely proportions; he had gray eyes,
with black brows above them; his hair was of great beauty, long and
thick and ending in ruddy curls. He never wore a beard. His shoulders
were two ells broad; his arms were as thick as the trunk of a tree and
as hard as a stone. He had strong, well-proportioned hands. The middle
of his body was of a graceful tapering shape, but his loins and hips
were wondrously strong; his feet beautiful and well-proportioned; his
thighs of enormous bigness. His strength was much beyond the ordinary
strength of men. The size of Theodoric's body was equalled by the
qualities of his mind. He was not only brave but jovial, good-tempered,
liberal, magnificent, always ready to bestow gold and silver and all
manner of precious things on his expectant friends. It was the saying of
some that the young warrior was like his grandfather, Samson; but
others held that there was never any one in the world to compare unto
Theodoric. When he had attained the fifteenth year of his age he was
solemnly created a knight by his father, Dietmar.

Now, while Theodoric was still a child there came to his father's court
one who was to have a great influence on his after life. This was
Hildebrand, commonly called Master Hildebrand, son of one of the Dukes
of Venice. He was a brave knight and a mighty one, and when he had
reached the age of thirty he told his father that he would fain see more
of the world than he could do by lingering all his days at Venice. Upon
which his father recommended him to try his fortune at the court of
Dietmar, King of Verona. He came therefore and was received very
graciously by Dietmar, who conferred great favours upon him and assigned
to him the care of the young Theodoric then about seven years of age.
Hildebrand taught Theodoric all knightly exercises; together they ever
rode to war, and the friendship which grew up between them was strong as
that which knit the soul of David to the soul of Jonathan.

One day when Theodoric and Hildebrand were hunting in the forest, a
little dwarf ran across their path, to which Theodoric gave chase. This
dwarf proved to be Alpris, the most thievish little creature in the
world. Theodoric was about to kill it, but Alpris said: "If you will
spare my life I will get you the finest sword that ever was made, and
will show you where to find more treasure than ever your father owned.
They belong to a little woman called Hildur and her husband Grimur. He
is so strong that he can fight twelve men at once, but she is much
stronger than he, and you will need all your strength if you mean to
overcome them". Having bound himself by tremendous oaths to perform
these promises, the dwarf was dismissed unhurt, and the two comrades
went on with their hunting. At evening they stood beside the rock where
Alpris was to meet them. The dwarf brought the sword, and pointed out
the entrance to a cave. The two knights gazed upon the sword with
wonder, agreeing that they had never seen anything like it in the world.
And no marvel, for this was the famous sword Nagelring, the fame whereof
went out afterwards into the whole world. They tied up their horses and
went together into the cave. Grimur, seeing strangers, at once
challenged them to fight; but looking round anxiously for Nagelring, he
missed it, whereupon he cursed the knavish Alpris, who had assuredly
stolen it from him. However, he snatched from the hearth the blazing
trunk of a tree and therewith attacked Theodoric. Meanwhile Hildebrand,
taken at unawares, was caught hold of by Hildur, who clung so tightly
round his neck that he could not move. After a long struggle they both
fell heavily to the ground, Hildebrand below, Hildur on top of him. She
squeezed his arms so tightly that the blood came out at his
finger-nails; she pressed her fist so hard on his throat and breast that
he could hardly breathe. He was fain to cry for help to Theodoric, who
answered that he would do all in his power to save his faithful friend
and tutor from the clutches of that foul little wench. With that he
swung round Nagelring and smote off the head of Grimur. Then he hastened
to his foster-father's aid and cut Hildur in two, but so mighty was the
power of her magic that the sundered halves of her body came together
again. Once more Theodoric clove her in twain; once more the severed
parts united. Hereupon quoth Hildebrand: "Stand between the sundered
limbs with your body bowed and your head averted, and the monster will
be overcome". So did Theodoric, once more cleaving her body in twain and
then standing between the pieces. One half died at once, but that to
which the head belonged was heard to say: "If the Fates had willed that
Grimur should fight Theodoric as toughly as I fought Hildebrand, the
victory had been ours". With these words the brave little woman died.

Hildebrand congratulated his pupil on his glorious victory, and they
then proceeded to despoil the cave of its treasures. One of the chief of
these was a helmet of wonderful strength, the like of which Theodoric
had never seen before. It was made by the dwarf Malpriant, and so
greatly had the strange couple prized it that they had given it their
united names Hildegrimur. This helmet guarded Theodoric's head in many a
fierce encounter, and by its help and that of the sword Nagelring he
gained many a victory. Bright was the renown which he won from this deed
of arms.

So great was the fame of the young hero that striplings from distant
lands, thirsting for glory, came to Dietmar's court that they might be
enrolled among the comrades of Theodoric. There were twelve of these
who, when they came to manhood, were especially distinguished as the
chiefs of his army, and among these Theodoric shone pre-eminent, even as
his contemporary, Arthur, king of Bertangenland,[161] among the Knights
of his Table Round.

[Footnote 161: Britain.]

But there were two of these comrades, friendly to Theodoric, though by
no means friendly to one another, who were more renowned than any of the
rest for their knightly deeds and strange adventures. These were Witig
and Heime, each of whom, having first fought with Theodoric, was
afterwards for many years his loyal and devoted knight.

Heime was the son of a great horse-breeder who dwelt north of the
mountains, and whose name was Studas. He was short and squat of figure
and square of face, but was all made for strength; and he was churlish
and morose of disposition, wherefore men called him Heime (which was the
name of a strong and venomous serpent), instead of Studas, which was of
right his name as well as his father's. One day Heime, having mounted
his famous grey horse Rispa, and girded on his good sword Blutgang,
announced to his father that he would ride southward over the mountains
to Verona, and there challenge Theodoric to a trial of strength. Studas
tried to dissuade his son, telling him that his presumption would cost
him his life; but Heime answered: "Thy life and thy calling are base and
inglorious, and I would rather die than plod on in this ignoble round.
But, moreover, I think not to fall by the hand of Theodoric. He is
scarce twelve winters old, and I am sixteen; and where is the man with
whom I need fear to fight?" So Heime rode over the rough mountain ways,
and appearing in the court-yard of the palace at Verona, challenged
Theodoric to fight. Indignant at the challenge, but confident of
victory, Theodoric went forth to the encounter, having donned his iron
shoes, his helmet and coat of mail, and taking his great thick shield,
red as blood, upon which a golden lion ramped, and above all, his good
sword Nagelring.

The young heroes fought at first on horseback, and in this encounter,
though Theodoric's spear pierced Heime's shield and inflicted upon him a
slight wound, a stumble of his horse had nearly brought him to the
ground. But then, as both spears were shivered, the combatants sprang
from their horses, waved high their swords, and continued the fight on
foot. At last Heime dealt Theodoric a swashing blow on his head, but the
good helmet Hildegrimur was so strong that it shivered the sword
Blutgang to pieces, and there stood Heime helpless, at the mercy of the
boy whom he had challenged. Theodoric gladly spared his life, and
received him into the number of his henchmen, and after that they were
for many years sworn friends.

It was some time after this that another young man appeared at Verona
and challenged Theodoric to single combat. This was Witig, the Dane, son
of that mighty worker in iron, Wieland,[162] who had in his veins the
blood of kings and of mysterious creatures of the deep, but who spent
all his days in his smithy, forging strange weapons, and whose wrongs
and terrible revenges and marvellous escapes from death are sung by all
the minstrels of the North. When he was twelve years old, Witig, drawn
like so many other brave youths by the renown of the young Theodoric,
announced to his father that he was determined to seek glory in the land
of the Amelungs.[163] Wieland would fain have had him stay in the smithy
and learn his own wealth-bringing craft; but Witig swore by the honour
of his mother, a king's daughter, that never should the smith's hammer
and tongs come into his hand. Thereupon Wieland gave him a coat of mail
of hard steel, which shone like silver, and greaves of chain-armour; a
white shield, on which were painted in red the smith's hammer and tongs,
telling of his father's trade, and three carbuncles, which he bore in
right of the princess, his mother. On his strong steel helmet a golden
dragon gleamed and seemed to spit forth venom. Into his son's right hand
Wieland gave the wondrous sword Mimung, which he had fashioned for a
cruel king, and which was so sharp that it cut through a flock of wool,
three feet thick, when floating on the water. Witig's mother gave him
three golden marks and her gold ring, and he kissed his father and his
mother and wished them a happy life, and they wished him a prosperous
journey and were sore at heart when he turned to go.

[Footnote 162: The Wayland Smith of English legend.]

[Footnote 163: This was the name of Italy, Theodoric and all his house
being known as Amelungs.]

But he grasped his spear and sprang into the saddle, all armed as he
was, without touching the stirrup. Then Wieland's face grew bright
again, and he walked long by the side of his son's horse and gave him
full knowledge of the road he must take. So they parted, father and son,
and Witig rode upon his way.

Long before he reached Verona he had met with many adventures,
especially one in which he overcame twelve robbers who held a strong
castle by a bridge and were wont to take toll of travellers. These
robbers seeing Witig draw nigh parted among them in anticipation his
armour and his horse, and planned also to maim him, cutting off his
right hand and right foot, but with the good sword Mimung he slew two of
them and was fighting valiantly with the rest when certain knights whom
he had before met on the road came to his help, and between them they
slew seven of the robbers and put the others to flight. These knights
were Hildebrand and Heime, and a stranger whom they were escorting to
the court of Verona. Heime, who was already jealous of Witig's power and
prowess, had sought to dissuade his companions from going to his help;
but Hildebrand refused to do so unknightly a deed as to let their
road-companion be overpowered by ruffians before their very eyes without
giving him succour. So now, the victory being won and Witig having
displayed his might, they all made themselves known unto him. Hildebrand
swore "brotherhood in arms" with Witig, but having heard of his
determination to challenge Theodoric to single combat, secretly by
night changed the sword Mimung for one less finely tempered. For he
feared for his young lord's life if that sword, wielded by Witig's
strong hand, should ever descend upon Theodoric's helmet.

At length the wayfarers all entered the gates of Verona. Great was
Theodoric's joy to behold again the good Master Hildebrand; but great
was his indignation when the young Dane, who came with Hildebrand,
challenged him to single combat. Said Theodoric: "In my father's land
and mine I will establish such peace that it shall not be permitted to
every rover and rascal to come into it and challenge me to the duel".

Hildebrand: "Thou sayest not rightly, my lord, nor knowest of whom thou
speakest. This is no rover nor rascal, but a brave man; and in sooth I
know not whether thou wilt get the victory over him".

Then interrupted Reinald, a follower of Theodoric: "That were in truth,
my lord, a great offence that every upstart urchin in thine own land
should come and challenge thee to the fight".

Hildebrand: "Thou shalt not assail my journey-companion with any such
abusive words".

And thereat he dealt Reinald such a blow with his fist on his ear that
he fell senseless to the ground. Then said Theodoric: "I see thou art
determined to be this man's friend; but thou shalt see how much good
that does him. This very day he shall be hung up yonder outside the
gates of Verona".

Hildebrand: "If he becomes thy prisoner, after you have both tried your
might, I will not complain however hard thy decision may seem to me;
but he is still unbound, and I think thou hast a hard day's work before
thee, ere thou becomest lord of his fate".

Theodoric in a rage called for his horse and armour and rode, followed
by a long train of courtiers, to the place of tourney outside the walls
of Verona, where Witig and Hildebrand, with few companions, were
awaiting him. Witig sate, arrayed in full armour, on his horse,
battle-ready and stately to look upon. Then Heime gave Theodoric a bowl
of wine and said: "Drink, my lord, and may God give thee the victory".
Theodoric drank and gave back the bowl. Likewise Hildebrand offered a
bowl to Witig, who said: "Take it to Theodoric and pray him to drink to
me from it". But Theodoric in his rage refused to touch the bowl that
Witig was to drink from. Then said Hildebrand: "Thou knowest not the man
with whom thou art so enraged, but thou wilt find him a true hero and
not the good-for-nothing fellow thou hast called him to-day". Then he
gave Witig the bowl and said: "Drink now, and then defend thyself with
all manhood and bravery, and may God give thee his succour". And Witig
drank and gave it back to Hildebrand, and with it the gold ring of his
mother, saying: "God reward thee for thy true help-bringing".

Of the fierce battle between the two heroes which now followed it were
too long to tell the tale. They fought first on horseback, then they
fought on foot. Witig dealt a mighty blow with his sword at Theodoric's
helmet, but the helmet Hildegrimur was too strong for the sword which
Hildebrand had put in the place of Mimung, and which now was shivered
into two pieces. "Ah, Wieland!" cried Witig in vexation, "God's wrath be
on thee for fashioning this sword so ill! If I had had a good sword, I
had this day proved myself a hero; but now shame and loss are mine and
his who forged my weapon".

Then Theodoric took the sword Nagelring with both his hands and was
about to cut off Witig's head. But Hildebrand stepped in between and
begged Theodoric to spare Witig's life and take him for a comrade,
telling of his brave deeds against the twelve robbers, and declaring
that never would Theodoric have a more valiant or loyal follower than
this man, who was of kingly blood on both his father's and mother's
side, and was now willing to become Theodoric's man. But Theodoric,
still indignant at being challenged, as he deemed, by a son of a churl,
said sullenly: "No; the dog shall hang, as I said he should, before the
gates of Verona". Then Hildebrand, seeing that nought else would avail,
and that Theodoric heeded not good counsel, drew Mimung from the
scabbard and gave it to Witig, saying: "For the sake of the brotherhood
in arms which we swore when we met upon the journey, I give thee here
thy sword Mimung. Take it and defend thyself like a knight". Then was
Witig joyous as a bird at daybreak. He kissed the golden-hilted sword
and said: "May God forgive me for the reproach which I hurled at my
father, Wieland. See! Theodoric, noble hero! see! here is Mimung. Now am
I joyous for the fight with thee as a thirsty man for drinking, or a
hungry hound for feeding". Then he rained on Theodoric blow on blow,
hacking away now a piece of his coat of mail, now a splinter from his
helmet. Theodoric, bleeding from five great wounds, and thinking only
now of defence, never of attack, called on Master Hildebrand to end the
combat; but Hildebrand, still sore at heart because Theodoric seemed to
accuse him of lying when he called Witig a hero, told him that he might
now expect to receive from the conqueror the same disgraceful doom which
he in his arrogance and cruelty had adjudged to the conquered.

Then King Dietmar came and besought Witig to spare his son's life,
offering him a castle and an earl's rank and a noble wife; but Witig
spurned his gifts, and told him that it would be an unkingly deed if he,
by his multitude of men-at-arms, stayed the single combat which was
turning against his son. So, after these words, they renewed the fight;
and now, by a mighty blow from the good sword Mimung, even the stout
helmet was cloven asunder from right to left, and the golden hair of
Theodoric streamed out of the fissure. With that Hildebrand relented,
and springing between the twain, begged Witig, for the sake of the
brotherhood that was sworn between them, to give peace to Theodoric and
take him for his comrade--"And when you two shall stand side by side
there will be none in the world that can stand against you". "Though he
deserves it not", said Witig, "yet since thou askest it, and for our
brotherhood's sake, I grant him his life".

Then they laid their weapons aside and clasped one another's hands, and
became good friends and comrades. So they rode back to Verona, and were
all merry together.

Many days lay Theodoric at Verona, for his wounds in the fight were
grevious. At length he rode forth on his good steed Falke, in quest of
adventures, to brighten again his honour which was tarnished by the
victory of Witig. After many days he reached a certain forest which was
near the castle of Drachenfels. Through that forest, as he was told,
there was wont to wander a knight named Ecke, who was betrothed to the
chatelaine of Drachenfels, a widowed queen with nine fair daughters.
Having heard of the might of the unconquered Ecke, Theodoric, who was
still somewhat weakened by his wounds, thought to pass through the
forest by night and so avoid an encounter. But as luck would have it,
the two knights met in the thick wood where neither could see the other,
and Ecke, having called upon the unseen traveller to reveal his name,
and finding that it was Theodoric, tempted him to single combat by every
taunt and lure that he could think of, by sneering at him for Witig's
victory and by praising his own good sword Ecke-sax, made in the same
smithy as Nagelring, gold-hilted and gold-inlaid, so that when you held
it downwards a serpent of gold seemed to run along the blade from the
handle to the point. Neither this temptation nor yet that of the twelve
pounds of ruddy gold in Ecke's girdle prevailed on Theodoric, who said
again and again: "I will fight thee gladly when day dawns, but not here
in the darkness, where neither of us can see his foe". But when Ecke
began to boast of the stately queen, his betrothed, and of the nine
princesses who had armed him for the fight, said Theodoric: "In heaven's
name I will fight thee, not for gold nor for thy wondrous sword, but for
glory and for the prize of those nine fair daughters of a king". Then
they struck their swords against the stones in the road, and by the
light of the sparks they closed on one another. Shield was locked in
shield, the weapons clashed, the roar of their battle was like the roar
of a thunderstorm, but or ever either had wounded his foe, they fell to
the ground, Ecke above, Theodoric below, "Now, if thou wouldst save thy
life", said Ecke, "thou shalt let me bind thee, and take thy armour and
thy steed, and thou shalt come with me to the castle, and there will I
show thee bound to the princesses who equipped me for this encounter".
"Rather will I die", said Theodoric "than be made mock of by these nine
princesses and their mother, and by all who shall hereafter see or hear
of me". Then he struggled, and got his hands free, and clutched Ecke
round the neck, and so they wrestled to and fro upon the turf in the
dark forest. But meanwhile the good steed Falke, hearing his master in
distress, bit in two the bridle by which Theodoric had fastened him to a
tree, and ran to where the two knights lay struggling on the earth.
Stamping with his forefeet, with all his might, upon Ecke, Falke broke
his spine. Then sprang Theodoric to his feet, and drawing his sword he
cut off the head of his foe. Equipping himself in Ecke's arms he rode
forth from the forest at daybreak, and drew near to the castle of
Drachenfels. The queen, standing on the top of her tower, and seeing a
man clad in Ecke's armour approach, riding a noble war-horse, called to
her daughters: "Come hither and rejoice. Ecke went forth on foot, but he
rides back on a noble steed. Doubtless he has slain some knight in
single combat". Then the queen and all her daughters, dressed in their
goodliest raiment, went forth to meet the conqueror. But when they came
nearer and saw that the arms of Ecke were borne by an unknown stranger,
they read the battle more truly. Then the queen sank to the ground in a
swoon, and the nine fair princesses went back to the castle and put on
robes of mourning, and told the men-at-arms to ride forth and avenge
their champion. So Theodoric perceived that the princesses were not for
him, and rode away from the castle.

Now, Ecke had one brother named Fasold, and this man had bound himself
by a vow never to smite more than one blow at any who came against him
in battle. But so doughty a champion was he that this one blow had till
now been sufficient for every antagonist. When Fasold saw Theodoric come
riding through the wood towards him he cried out: "Art thou not my
brother Ecke?"

Theodoric: "Another am I, and not thy brother".

Fasold: "Base death-dog! thou hast stolen on my brother Ecke in his
sleep and murdered him; for when he was awake thou hadst never overcome
that strifeful hero".

Theodoric: "Thou liest there. He forced me, to fight for honour's sake
and for the sake of his betrothed and the nine fair princesses, her
daughters. But a brave man truly he was, and had I known how great a
warrior I would never have ventured to match myself against him".

Then Fasold rushed at Theodoric with drawn sword, and dealt a terrible
blow upon his helmet, which stunned Theodoric and stretched him
senseless on the ground. Remembering his vow, Fasold then turned away
and rode towards the castle.

Before long, however, Theodoric's soul returned into him, and springing
on his horse he rode furiously after Fasold, and with taunting words
provoked him to the fight, declaring that he was a "Nithing" [164] if he
would not avenge his brother. With that Fasold turned back, and the two
heroes leaping from their horses began the fight on foot. It was a long
and terrible combat, but it began to turn against Fasold. He had
received five grievous wounds, while Theodoric had but three, and of a
slighter kind. Perceiving, therefore, that the longer the fight lasted
the more certain he was to be at last slain, and as to each man his own
life is most precious, this great and valiant hero begged his life of
Theodoric, and offered to become his henchman. "Peace I will have with
thee", said Theodoric, "but not thy service, seeing that thou art so
noble a knight, and that I have slain thy brother. On this one condition
will I grant thee thy life, that thou wilt clasp my hand and swear
brotherhood in arms with me, that each of us shall help the other in all
time of his need as if we were born brothers, and that all men shall
know us for loyal comrades". Fasold gladly took the oath, and they
mounted their horses and rode together towards Verona.

[Footnote 164: Coward, good-for-nothing man.]

On their road they met a mighty beast which is called an elephant.
Theodoric, in spite of Fasold's dissuading words, persisted in attacking
it, but failed, even with the good sword Ecke-sax, to reach any vital
part. Then was he in great danger; nor would the help which Fasold
loyally rendered have availed him much, for the huge beast was trampling
him under its great forefeet; but the faithful steed Falke again broke
its bridle and came to the help of its master. The fierce kicks which it
gave the elephant in its side called off its attention from Theodoric,
who once more getting hold of Ecke-sax, stabbed the elephant in the
belly, and sprang nimbly from under it before it fell down dead.

Riding some way from thence and emerging from a wood, the two comrades
saw a vast dragon flying through the air at no great distance from the
ground. It had long and sharp claws, a huge and terrible head, and from
its mouth protruded the head and hands of an armed and still living
knight whom it had half swallowed and was attempting to carry off. The
unhappy victim called on them for help, and they struck the dragon with
their swords, but its hide was hard, and Fasold's sword was blunt, and
only Theodoric's sword availed aught against it, "Mine is sharper",
cried the captive, but it is inside the creature's mouth. Use it, if you
can, for my deliverance. Then the valiant Fasold rushed up and plucked
the knight's sword from out of the jaws of the dragon. "Strike
carefully", said the captive, "that I be not wounded by mine own sword,
for my legs are inside the creature's mouth". Even so did they. Both
Fasold and Theodoric struck deft blows and soon killed the dragon, by
whose dead body the three heroes stood on the green turf. They asked the
liberated knight of his name and lineage, and he turned out to be
Sintram, grandson of Bertram, Duke of Venice, and cousin of good Master
Hildebrand, and then on his way to Verona to visit his kinsman and to
take service under Theodoric.

Eleven days and eleven nights had he been riding, and at length being
weary had laid him down to rest, when that foul monster stole upon him
in his sleep, and first robbing him of his shield, had then opened its
mouth to swallow him up and bear him away.

Then Theodoric made himself known to Sintram, who pleaded earnestly that
his faithful sword might be restored to him. Great was the joy when the
heroes were made known one to another. And so Sintram became one of
Theodoric's henchmen, and served him long and faithfully.

Thus passed the youth of Theodoric--

    "When every morning brought a noble chance.
    And every chance brought out a noble knight".

Ere many years were gone King Dietmar died, having scarcely reached
middle age, and Theodoric succeeded him in the kingdom. And he was the
most renowned amongst princes; his fame spread wide and far over the
whole world, and his name will abide and never be forgotten in all the
lands of the South so long as the world shall endure. After he had
reigned some years, he willed to marry, and having heard of the fame of
the beautiful Princess Hilda, daughter of Arthur, King of Britain, he
sent his sister's son, Herbart, to ask for the maiden's hand. King
Arthur liked not that Theodoric should not have come himself to urge his
suit, and he would not suffer Herbart to have speech of the princess;
but Herbart, who was a goodly youth and a brave knight, pleased Arthur
well, and he kept him at his court and made him his seneschal. Now the
Lady Hilda was so closely guarded that no stranger might see her face.
She never walked abroad, except when she went to the church, and then
twelve counts walked on either side holding up her girdle, and twelve
monks followed after, bearing her train, and twelve great Earls, in
coats of mail, with helmet and sword and shield, brought up the rear,
and looked terrible things on any man who should be bold enough to try
to speak with her. And over her head was a canopy, in which the plumes
of two great peacocks shielded her beautiful face from the rays of the
sun. Thus went the Lady Hilda to the place of prayer.

Now Herbart had waited many days, and had never caught sight of the
princess; but at length there was a great church festival, and she went,
thus magnificently attended, to perform her devotions. But neither on
the road nor yet in the church could Herbart see her face. But he had
prepared two mice, one adorned with gold and one with silver, and he
took out first one and then the other, and they ran to where the
princess was sitting. Each time she looked up to see the mouse running,
and each time he saw her beautiful face, and she saw that he beheld her,
and signals passed between them. Then she sent her maid to ask him of
his name and parentage, and he said: "I am Herbart, nephew of Theodoric
of Verona, and I crave an interview, that I may tell mine errand to thy
mistress". When they met outside the church porch, he had only time to
ask the princess to arrange that he might have longer speech of her,
when a monk, one of her twelve watchers, came by and asked him how he, a
foreigner, could be so bold as to speak with the princess. But Herbart
took the monk by the beard and shook him so violently that all his teeth
rattled, and told him that he would teach him once for all how to behave
to strangers.

That evening the princess asked her father at the banquet to let her
have whatever she should desire, and he, for his heart was merry with
wine, consented to her prayer. Then she asked that Herbart, his handsome
seneschal, might be her servant, and King Arthur, though loath to part
with him, for his honour's sake granted her request. Thereupon Herbart
sent back half of the knights who had accompanied him from Verona to
tell Theodoric that he had seen Hilda and spoken with her, and that she
was the fairest of women. Glad at heart was Theodork when he heard these
tidings.

And now Herbart had speech often with his mistress, and began to tell
her of his errand and to urge his uncle's suit. But she said, "What
manner of man is Theodoric of Verona?" "Greatest of all heroes", said
Herbart, "and kindest and most generous of men; and if thou wilt be his
wedded wife thou shalt have no lack of gold or silver or jewels". She
said, "Canst thou draw his face upon this wall?" "Yea", answered he,
"and so that every one seeing it would say, 'That is the face of King
Theodoric.'" Then he drew a great, grim face on the wall, and said:
"Lady, that is he; only, God help me! he is far more terrible-looking
than that". Thereupon she thought, "God cannot be so wroth with me as to
destine me for that monster". And she looked up and said, "Sir! why dost
thou ask for my hand for Theodoric, of Verona, and not for thyself?" He
answered: "I was bound to fulfil the message of my lord; but if thou
wilt have me, who am of the seed of kings, though I am not a king
myself, gladly will I be thy husband, and neither King Arthur nor King
Theodoric nor all their men shall part us twain".

So the two plighted troth to one another, Herbart and Hilda: and
watching their opportunity they stole away on horseback from the castle.
King Arthur sent after them thirty knights and thirty squires, with
orders to slay Herbart and to bring Hilda back again; but Herbart
defended himself like a hero, killing twelve knights and fourteen
squires: and the rest fled back to the castle. Herbart, though sore
wounded, mounted his steed and escaped with his wife to the dominions of
a certain king, who received him graciously, and made him duke, and gave
him broad lands. And he became a great warrior and did mighty deeds.

After this Theodoric married the eldest of the nine fair princesses of
Drachenfels, for the love of whom he had fought with the strong man
Ecke. The name of Theodoric's wife was Gudelinda. Two of her sisters
were married to two of Theodoric's men, namely, to Fasold, and the merry
rogue and stout warrior, Dietleib,[165] whose laughter-moving adventures
I have here no room to chronicle. And the mother, Bolfriana, who was
fairest of all the race, was wooed and won by Witig. But this marriage,
which Theodoric furthered with all his power, brought ill with it in the
end and the separation of tried friends. For, in order to marry
Bolfriana and receive the lordship of her domains, Witig was obliged to
enter Hermanric's service and become his man. And though Hermanric
promoted him to great honour and made him a count, this was but a poor
amends for the necessity which, as you shall soon hear, lay upon Witig,
to lift up his sword against his former master.

[Footnote 165: Some of these adventures remind us of the story of the
kitchen-knave as told in Tennyson's Gareth and Lynette.]

Now, Hermanric, as has been said, was sovereign lord of Rome and of many
other fair lands beside: and all kings and dukes to the south of the
great mountains served him, and, as it seems, even Theodoric himself
owned him as over-lord, and he was by far the greatest potentate in the
south of Europe. For the Emperor himself then ruled only over Bulgaria
and Greece, while King Hermanric's dominions included all that lay west
of the Sea of Adria.

Till this time Theodoric and his uncle, Hermanric, had been good
friends. The young hero had visited the older one at Romaborg, and they
had fought side by side against their enemies. But now came a disastrous
change, which made Theodoric a wanderer from his home for many years;
and this was all the work of that false traitor, Hermanric's chief
counsellor, Sibich.[166] For Sibich's honour as a husband had been
stained by his lord while he himself was absent on an embassy; but
instead of avenging himself with his own right hand on the adulterous
king, he planned a cruel and wide-reaching scheme of vengeance which
should embrace all the kindred of the wrong-doer. Of Hermanric's three
sons he caused that the eldest should be sent on an embassy to
Wilkina-land[167] demanding tribute from the king of that country, and
should be slain there by an accomplice; that the second should be sent
on a like embassy to England, and sailing in a leaky ship, should be
swallowed up by the waves; and that the youngest should be slain by his
father in a fit of rage provoked by the slanderous accusations of
Sibich. Then he set Hermanric against his nephews, the Harlungs, sons of
his half-brother, Aké; and these hapless young men were besieged in
their Rhine-land castle, to which Hermanric set fire, and issuing forth,
sword in hand, that they might not die like rats in a hole, were
captured and hung by their enraged uncle on the highest tree in their
own domains. So was all the family of Hermanric destroyed except
Theodoric and his young brother Diether: and against Theodoric Sibich
now began to ply his engines of calumny. He represented to Hermanric
that Theodoric's kingdom had for some time been growing large, while his
own had been growing smaller, and hinted that soon Theodoric would
openly attack his uncle. Meanwhile, and in order to test his peaceable
disposition, Hermanric, by Sibich's advice, claimed that he should pay
him tribute for Amalungen-land.[168] When Theodoric refused to do this
Hermanric was persuaded of the truth of Sibich's words, and declared
that Theodoric also should be hanged, "for right well do both he and I
know which of us is the mightier".

[Footnote 166: In the Norse Siska, sometimes Bicki.]

[Footnote 167: Norway.]

[Footnote 168: Perhaps North Italy.]

Witig and Heime, who were now at Hermanric's court, when they heard
these wrathful words, tried in vain to abate the fury of the king and to
open his eyes to Sibich's falseness; but as they availed nothing, they
mounted their horses and rode with all speed to Verona. At midnight they
reached the city and told Theodoric the evil tidings, that on the next
day Hermanric would burst upon him with overwhelming force determined to
slay him. Then Theodoric went into his great hall of audience and bade
the horns blow to summon all his counsellors and men of war to a meeting
there in the dead of night. He told them all the tidings that Witig had
brought and asked their counsel, whether it were better to stay in
Verona and die fighting--for of successful resistance to such a force
there was no hope--or to bow for a while to the storm and fleeing from
the home-land seek shelter at some foreign court. Master Hildebrand
advised, and all were of his opinion, that it was better to flee, and
that with all speed, before morning dawned. Scarcely had Hildebrand's
words been spoken, when there arose a great sound of lamentation in
Verona, women and children bewailing that their husbands and fathers
were about to leave them, brothers parting from brothers and friends
from friends. And with all this, in the streets the neighing of horses,
and the clank of arms, as the warriors, hastily aroused, prepared
themselves for their midnight march.

So Theodoric, with the knights his companions, rode away from Verona,
which Hermanric entered next morning with five thousand men. And
Theodoric rode first to Bacharach[169] on the Rhine, where dwelt the
great Margrave, Rudiger, who was his trusty friend. And from thence he
rode on to Susat,[170] where was the palace of Attila, King of the Huns.
And when Attila heard that Theodoric was coming, he bade his men blow
the great horns, and with all his chieftains he poured forth to welcome
him and do him honour. So Theodoric tarried in the palace of Attila, a
cherished and trusted guest, and there he abode many years.

[Footnote 169: Bakalar or Bechelaren.]

[Footnote 170: Susat is identified with Soest in Westphalia, an
allocation which is doubtless due to the region in which "Wilkina Saga"
was committed to writing (the neighbourhood of Münster and Bremen). The
geographical conditions of the story would be better suited by Buda on
the Danube, which would, of course, be nearer to historical fact.]

Now King Attila had long wars to wage with his neighbours on the north
and east of Hun-land. These were three brothers, mighty princes,
Osantrix, king of Wilkina-land (Norway and Sweden) whose daughter Attila
had married, and Waldemai, king of Russia and Poland, and Ilias, Earl
of Greece, With all Attila waged war, but longest and hardest with
Waldemar. And in all these encounters Theodoric and his Amalung knights
were ever foremost in the fray and last to retreat, whilst Attila and
his Huns fled often early from the battle-field, leaving the Amalungs
surrounded by their foes. Thus, once upon a time, Theodoric and Master
Hildebrand, with five hundred men, were surrounded in a fortress in the
heart of Russia: and they suffered dire famine ere King Attila,
earnestly entreated, came to their rescue. And Master Hildebrand said to
the good knight, Rudiger, who had been foremost in pressing on to
deliver them, "I am now an hundred years old and never have I been in
such sore need as this day. We had five hundred men and five hundred
horses, and seven only of the horses are left which we have not killed
and eaten".

In this campaign Theodoric took prisoner his namesake, Theodoric, the
son of Waldemar, and handed him over into the keeping of his good host
and ally, King Attila. By him the captive was at first thrown into a
dreary dungeon, and no care was taken of his many wounds. But Erka, the
queen of the Huns, who was a cousin of Theodoric, son of Waldemar,
besought her husband that she might be allowed to take him out of prison
and bring him to the palace and heal his wounds. "If he is healed, he
will certainly escape", said Attila. "If I may only heal him", said
Erka, "I will put my life on the hazard that he shall not escape". "Be
it so", said Attila, who was going on another campaign into fat Russia:
"If when I return I find that the son of Waldemar has escaped, doubt not
that I will strike off thy head".

Then Attila rode forth to war, and Erica commanded that Theodoric, the
son of Waldemar, should be brought into the palace, and every day she
had dainty dishes set before him, and provided him with warm baths, and
delighted his soul with gifts of jewels. But Theodoric of Verona, who
was also sore wounded, was left under the care of an ignorant and idle
nurse, and his wounds were not tended, and were like to become
gangrened. So before many days were passed, the son of Waldemar was
again whole, and clothed him with his coat and greaves of mail and put
his shining helmet on his head, and mounted his horse and rode from the
palace. Queen Erka implored him to stay, saying that her head was the
pledge of his abiding; but he answered that he had been all too long
already in Hun-land, and would ride forth to his own country. Then the
queen, in her terror and despair, sought Theodoric of Verona, where he
lay in his ungarnished chamber with his gangrened wounds; and he, though
he could not forbear to reproach her for her little kindness to him, and
though his wounds made riding grievous and fighting well-nigh
impossible, yet yielded to her prayers and tears, and rode forth after
the son of Waldemar. Striking spurs into the good steed Falke, he rode
fast and far, and came up at length with the fugitive. "Return", he
cried, "for the life's sake of thy cousin, Erka; and she and I together
will reconcile thee to Attila, and I will give thee silver and gold".
But Waldemar's son utterly refused to return and to be reconciled with
either of his enemies, and scoffed at the foul wounds of his namesake.
"If thou wilt not return for silver and gold, nor to save the life of
thy cousin, Erka, thou shalt stay for thine own honour's sake, for I
challenge thee here to combat; and never shalt thou be called aught but
a 'Nithing' if thou ridest away when challenged by one wounded man". At
these words the son of Waldemar had no choice but to stay and fight. The
battle was long and desperate, and once both champions, sore weary,
leaned upon their shields and rested a space, while he of Verona in vain
renewed to the son of Waldemar his offers of peace and friendship; but
the combat began again with fury, and at last, with one mighty
sword-stroke, Theodoric of Verona struck the right side of the neck of
the other Theodoric so that his head rolled off on the left side, and
the victor rode back to Susat with that trophy at his saddle-bow. Queen
Erka, when her cousin's head was thrown by Theodoric at her feet, wept
and bitterly lamented that so many of her kindred should lose their
lives for her sake.

At length, after many days, Theodoric was healed of his wounds, and went
with Attila on one more expedition into Russia, in the course of which
they took the cities of Smolensko and Pultowa, and Theodoric slew King
Waldemar on the battle-field.

And now had Theodoric been twenty winters in Hun-land. He had fought in
many great battles, and had gained broad lands for his host-friend,
Attila. His young brother, Diether, who had been brought as a babe from
Verona, had grown into a goodly stripling; and the two sons of Attila,
Erp and Ortwin, who had grown up with him, loved him as a brother; and
Erka, their mother, loved Diether as her own son. Great, too, was the
reverence shown to Theodoric, who sat at the high-seat by the side of
Attila, and was honoured as his chief counsellor and friend.

But Theodoric's heart pined for his home and his lost kingdom, and one
day he sought the presence of Queen Erka and poured out the longings of
his soul. "Good friend, Theodoric", said she, "I will be the first to
aid thee in thine endeavour. I will send with thee my two sons, Erp and
Ortwin, and a thousand well-armed knights. And now will I seek Attila,
my lord, and adjure him to help thee". Attila at first took it ill that
Theodoric came not himself to urge his suit, but when Erka had persuaded
him that it was not from pride but from modesty that he made the request
through her, and when she said that she was willing to send her own sons
into danger for his sake, Attila gladly yielded, and bade his trusty
friend Rudiger, with a body of chosen knights, accompany Theodoric and
his exiled followers back to their own land.

Then Queen Erka called her two sons to her and showed them the coats of
mail and the greaves of mail, bright as silver and of hardest steel, but
embellished with ruddy gold, and the helmets and the thick red shields
that she had prepared for their first day of battle. "Now be brave",
said she, weeping, "oh, fair sons of mine, even as your arms are
strong: for great as is my longing that you return in safety to my
embraces, I long yet more that all men should say that you bore
yourselves as brave men and heroes in the fight". And then she armed
Diether in like manner, and said: "Dear foster-son, behold here my sons
Erp and Ortwin, whom I have armed for war to help thee and Theodoric in
the recovery of your kingdom. You three youths, who are now here, have
loved one another so dearly that never were you in any game in which you
could not be on the same side and give one another help. Now you ride
forth to war for the first time: keep well together and help one another
in this great game on which you are now entering". "May God help me,
dear lady", said Diether, "that I may bring back both thy sons safe and
sound; but if they fall in the storm of war, I will not live to tell the
tale".

Of the clang of iron and steel in all the armourers' shops at Susat, of
the stillness which fell upon the shouting host when Attila, from a high
tower, gave his orders to the army, of the setting forth of the gallant
band, ten thousand knights with many followers, it needs not to be told
at length. Enough, they crossed the mountains and entered the land that
had been theirs; and Theodoric, to take no unknightly advantage of his
foe, sent messengers to Rome to apprise Hermanric of his coming and
challenge him to battle outside the walls of Ravenna. [171]

[Footnote 171: I here deviate from the text of the "Wilkina-Saga", which
puts the battle-field at Grònsport on the banks of the Moselle. This is
evidently due to the influence of the Münster and Bremen traditions,]

Hermanric, too old to go forth himself to war, gave the chief command to
the false counsellor, Sibich. Under him were Reinald and Witig, both of
whom had been friends and comrades of Theodoric in times past, and were
most unwilling to fight against him, though thirsting for battle with
any number of Huns. It was appointed, therefore, that Sibich, bearing
Hermanric's banner, should fight against Theodoric and his Amalungs,
Reinald against the gallant Rudiger, and Witig against the two sons of
Attila. The whole army of Hermanric numbered seventeen thousand men. And
now were the two armies drawn up on the opposite banks of a river, and
it was the night before the battle. Master Hildebrand, desiring to learn
the position of the enemy, rode some way up the stream till he found a
ford by which he crossed to the other side. It was so dark that he had
almost ridden up against another knight coming in the opposite
direction, before either perceived the other. Dark as it was they soon
recognised one another by their voices, though they had not met for
twenty years. The stranger was Reinald, who had come forth on the same
errand as Hildebrand. No blows were fought; only friendly words were
exchanged, with lamentations over this miserable war between the brother
Amalungs, and curses on the false Sibich, whose intrigues had brought it
to pass. Then the moon shone forth, and Reinald showed Hildebrand from
afar the great yellow tent with three golden tufts where the traitor
Sibich was sleeping; and the green tent with the silver tuft in which
Witig and his Amalungs were dreaming of battle with the Huns; and the
black tent, then empty of its lord, that was the tent of Reinald
himself. And Hildebrand told Reinald the ordering of the troops of
Theodoric, showing him Theodoric's tent with five poles and a golden
tuft, and the tent of the sons of Attila, made of red silk with nine
poles and nine tufts of gold; and the green tent of Margrave Rudiger.
Then the two warriors kissed each other and wished one another well
through the day of battle, and so they parted. And when Reinald,
returning to the camp, told whom he had met, Sibich wished to send him
to slay Master Hildebrand before he returned to his friends. But Reinald
would in no wise permit so unknightly a deed, saying that Sibich must
first slay him and all his friends ere such a thing should befall.

When day dawned Theodoric set forward his array and bade all his
trumpets blow. They rode up the stream to the ford which Hildebrand had
discovered the night before, and crossed thereby. And Sibich and Witig,
seeing them approach, sounded their trumpets and marshalled their men.
Theodoric, seeing the false Sibich's banner waving, cried to his
followers: "Forward, my men! Strike this day with all your courage and
knighthood. Ye have striven often against the Russians and the
Wilkina-men, and have mostly gotten the victory; but now in this strife
we fight for our own land and realm, and for the deathless glory that
will be ours if we win our land back again". Then he spurred his brave
old steed Falke through the thickest ranks of the enemy, raising ever
and anon his good sword Ecke-sax and letting it fall, with every blow
felling a warrior or his horse to the ground. Likewise his brave
standard-bearer Wildeber, who went before him, hewed down the ranks of
the foe. Against him came Walter, Sibich's standard-bearer, who rode in
hero-mood towards him, and aiming the banner-staff full against his
breast, pierced him through, the staff coming out through his shoulders.
But Wildeber, though wounded to the death, lopped off with his sword the
end of the banner-staff, and then riding fiercely at Walter struck him
on his thigh so terrible a blow that the sword cut right through the
coat of mail and stuck fast in the saddle below. Then did both the
standard-bearers fall from their horses and lie dead on the field side
by side.

When Sibich saw his standard droop and the brave knight Walter fall, he
turned his horse and fled from the field, and all his division of the
army with him. Theodoric and his men rode after them fast and far, and
wrought dire havoc among them, but when Theodoric was miles away from
the battle-plain he was overtaken by one of his men, his horse all
covered with foam, who brought him evil tidings from another part of the
field.

For Witig, when he saw the flight of Sibich, not terrified but all the
more enraged, had ridden fiercely towards the place where the banner of
Attila's sons was waving and had struck down their standard-bearer.
"Seest thou", said Ortwin to Helfric, his sworn henchman, "what evil
that base dog, Witig, is doing? He has slain our brave standard-bearer;
let us ride up to him and stop his deadly work". So spake Ortwin, but in
the fierce fray that followed both he and his good comrade Helfric, and
then his brother Erp, fell dead around Witig and his standard-bearer.
Oh! then, great was the wrath of the young Diether--who meanwhile had
fought and killed the standard-bearer of Witig--when he saw both of his
foster-brothers slain. Eager to avenge them, he struck oft and hard at
Witig's armour. "Art thou Diether, King Theodoric's brother?" cried
Witig; "for his sake I am loth to do thee any hurt. Ride away and fight
with some other man". "Since my young lords Erp and Ortwin are dead, and
thou, base hound, hast slain them, I care not for my life unless I can
have thine". So said Diether, and struck with all his might on Witig's
helmet. The helmet, of hardest steel, resisted the blow, but the sword,
glancing off, descended on the neck of Witig's war-horse, Schimming, and
severed its head from its body. "God knows", cried Witig, as he sprang
to earth, "that I fight now but to save mine own life". And with that he
grasped the handle of his sword Mimung with both hands and struck
Diether so terrible a blow that he clove his body in twain.

These were the tidings which the breathless knight brought to Theodoric
and which stayed him in his pursuit of the fugitives. "Ah! how have I
sinned", said he "that so evil a day should come upon me? Here am I
untouched by a wound, but my dearest brother is dead and my two young
lords also. Never may I now return to Hun-land, but here will I die or
avenge them". And with that he turned and set spurs to Falke and rode so
swiftly that none of his men could keep up with him; and so full was he
of rage and fury that a hot breath, like sparks of fire, came forth from
his mouth, and no living man might dare to stand before him. And when he
reached Witig, who was riding Diether's horse, his own being slain,
Witig, like all others turned to flee from that terrible countenance.
"Evil dog", cried Theodoric, "if thou hast any courage stand and wait
till I come up to thee and avenge the death of my brother". "I slew him
against my will". said Witig, "and because I had no other way to save my
life; and if I can pay forfeit for his blood with any quantity of gold
and silver, that will I gladly do". But still he fled as fast as his
steed could carry him, down the course of a stream to where it poured
itself into a lake, and still Theodoric rode after him. But when
Theodoric hurled his spear, in that very moment Witig sank beneath the
waters of the lake and the spear-shaft was driven deep into the shore,
and there it may be seen to this day. But some men thought that Witig
was received by a mermaid and kept hidden in her cave for many days. For
his grandfather had been born long ago of this mermaid, having been
begotten by Wilkinus, King of Norway.

So the battle had been won by Theodoric and his allies (for in other
parts of the field the Margrave Rudiger had vanquished Reinald) yet was
it a bootless victory by reason of the death of Attila's sons. And
Theodoric, riding back to the battle-field, came where his brother
Diether was lying; and lamented him saying: "There liest thou; my
brother Diether. This is the greatest sorrow that has befallen me, that
thou art thus untimely slain". And then he came to the place where lay
the young princes, with their stout coats of mail and their strong
helmets, which had not been able to save them from death, and he said:
"Dear young lords, this is the greatest of my sorrows that I have lost
you; and how shall I now return to Susat? God knows that I would gladly
have many a gaping wound, if only you might be whole again". Then he
bade Rudiger lead back the army to its king, for he would neither claim
his own kingdom nor return to the palace of Susat, after he had cost
Attila the lives of so many brave knights and of his own sons. So
Rudiger returned to the palace, but Theodoric and Master Hildebrand
dwelt in a little hut in the neighbourhood of the city of Susat.

When Rudiger stood in the presence of Attila, who asked him of the
welfare of Theodoric and of the host, he made answer: "King Theodoric
lives, and the Huns have been conquerors in the battle, yet have we had
evil fortune, since we have lost the young lords, Erp and Ortwin". Then
Queen Erka and almost all who were in the palace-hall lifted up their
voices and wept. And Rudiger told Attila how Diether and many another
brave knight had fallen in the battle. But Attila answered with
steadfast soul: "It has happened now as it ever does. They fall in the
fight for whom it is so appointed, and neither mail nor muscle avails
them anything. My sons Erp and Ortwin and their foster-brother Diether
had the best arms that could be fashioned in the smithy, yet there they
all lie dead". And after a space he added: "Where is my good friend,
King Theodoric?" "He and Master Hildebrand are sitting together in a
mean hut, and they have laid their arms aside and dare not come into thy
presence, O King! because they have lost the young lords". Then Attila
sent two knights to beg Theodoric to come into his presence, but he
would not for grief and shame. Then Queen Erka rose up weeping and went
with her maidens to the cottage where Theodoric abode: and when she
entered it she said: "My good friend, Theodoric! how did my sons fare in
the war, and fought they as good knights ere they fell?" But Theodoric,
with mournful face, answered: "Lady! they fought as good knights and
parried the blows bravely, and neither of them would part from the
other". And with that she went up to him and threw her arms round his
neck and said: "Good friend! King Theodoric! come now into the
palace-hall to King Attila, and take thy welcome there, and be merry
once more. Often before now have the brave men for whom it was
appointed, fallen in the battle; and they who live still must take
thought for themselves, since it profits not to be ever bewailing the
dead". So Theodoric went with the queen into the palace-hall, and Attila
stood up and gave him a kiss of welcome and bade him sit beside him on
the high-seat. Thus he returned to Attila's palace, where he dwelt for
yet many years, and all was friendship between them as before.

Two years after this Queen Erka fell sick of a grievous disease and lay
at the point of death. Sending for Theodoric, she rehearsed to him how
he had ever been the best friend of her husband and herself; and as it
might well happen that this sickness would sever that long friendship,
she desired to give him fifteen marks of red gold in a beaker and a
costly purple robe, as memorials of the same, and she prayed him to take
her young kinswoman, Herauda,[172] to wife. Theodoric said: "Good lady
and queen! thy sickness is doubtless a dangerous one. True friendship
hast thou ever shown to me and mine; and better it were for Attila to
lose the half of his kingdom than to lose thee". Thereat he wept like a
child and could say no more words, but went quickly forth of the
chamber.

[Footnote 172: Or Herrat.]

Then Erka desired to see her dear friend, Master Hildebrand, and spake
to him too of the true friendship which was now about to be severed, in
remembrance whereof she gave him a ring of gold. And then sending for
Attila she spake to him of her coming death. "Thus wilt thou become a
widower", said she, "but so thou wilt not long remain. Choose,
therefore, a good and loving wife, for if thou choosest a wicked woman
she may work much harm to thee and many others beside. Good King Attila!
take no wife out of Nibelungen-land, nor from the race of Aldrian, for
if thou dost, thou wilt sorely repent of it, and harm unspeakable will
be wrought to thee and the children whom she may bear thee". Soon after
she had spoken these words, she gave up the ghost; and great was the
lamentation in all Hun-land when they heard that the good Queen Erka was
no more in life.

The warning given by the dying queen was, like most such warnings,
unheeded. After three years of widowerhood, Attila sent one of his
nephews into Nibelungen-land[173] to ask for the hand of
Chriemhild,[174] daughter of Aldrian, loveliest and wisest of the women
of her time; but maddened by secret grief for the loss of her first
husband, Siegfried,[175] who had been slain by her brothers, Hagen[176]
and King Gunther. The suit prospered; with strange blindness of heart,
King Gunther gave his consent to the union of the sister who was his
deadliest enemy with the mightiest king in Europe. For seven years
Chriemhild waited for her revenge; then came that invitation to the
Nibelungs to visit the court of Attila, which, in the infatuation of
their souls, King Gunther and his brethren accepted, taking with them a
chosen band of a thousand warriors. The scheme of vengeance prepared by
Chriemhild, the quarrel which she provoked at the banquet, the terrible
slaughter suffered and inflicted by the Nibelungs in the palace garden,
their desperate rush into the palace-hall, the stand made therein by
their ever-dwindling band on the pavement which was slippery with the
gore of heroes--all this has been sung by a hundred minstrels, and need
not here be repeated. We have only to do with the share Theodoric and
his friends took in the fatal combat. Long the Amalungs stood utterly
aloof from the fray, grieving sorely that so many of their friends on
both sides were falling by one another's hands. For to the Nibelungs, as
well as to Attila and the Huns, were they bound by the ties of
guest-friendship, and in happier days Theodoric had ridden with Gunther
and with Hagen, to test the mettle of their knights against the chivalry
of Britain. So Theodoric and his men stood on the battlement of his
palace, which looked down on the garden of Attila, and watched from afar
the ghastly conflict. But at length they saw the good Margrave Rudiger,
the ally of the Amals on so many a hard-fought battle-field, fall by the
hand of his own daughter's husband, the young prince, Giselher; and then
could Theodoric bear it no longer, but cried, saying: "Now is my best
friend, Margrave Rudiger, dead. Take your weapons, comrades, and let us
avenge his fall". He descended into the street. He forced his way into
the palace-hall. Terrible was the clang of the strong sword Ecke-sax on
the helmets of the Nibelungs. Many of them fell before him, but alas!
many of his faithful Amals fell there also, far from their home. At
length, in all that stately palace-hall, there remained but four men
still able to deal blows, and these were Theodoric and Master Hildebrand
of the Amalungs, Hagen and Giselher of their foes. And Hagen stood up to
fight with Theodoric, and Giselher with Hildebrand. Then, as King
Attila came from his tower to watch the combat, Hagen shouted to him:
"It were a knightly deed to let young Giselher go unhurt, for he is
innocent of the death of Siegfried the Swift". "Yea, truly", said
Giselher; "Chriemhild, my sister, knows that I was a little child of
five years old in my mother's bed when her husband was killed. I am
innocent of this blood-feud, yet care I not to live now that my brethren
are slain". Therewith he closed in fight with Master Hildebrand, and
soon received his death-wound from the old hero.

[Footnote 173: Burgundy.]

[Footnote 174: In the "Wilkina-Saga", Grimhild.]

[Footnote 175: In the "Wilkina-Saga", Sigurd.]

[Footnote 176: In the "Nibelungen-lied", Hagen is only a kinsman; in the
"Wilkina-Saga", a brother of Gunther and Chriemhild.]

Now there remained but one terrible encounter, that between Hagen and
Theodoric. Hagen said: "It seems that here our friendship must come to
an end, great as it has ever been. Let us each fight bravely for his
life, and knight-like, call on no man for aid". Theodoric answered:
"Truly, I will let none meddle in this encounter, but will fight it with
warlike skill and knightliness". They fought long and hard, and
exchanged grievous blows, and both were weary and both were wounded.
Then Theodoric waxed exceeding wroth with himself for not overcoming his
foe, and said: "Truly, this is a shame for me to stand here all the day
and not to be able to vanquish the elfin's son". "Why should the elfin's
son be worse than the son of the devil himself?" answered Hagen.[177] At
that Theodoric was seized with such fury that fiery breath issued from
his mouth. Hagen's coat of mail was heated red-hot by this breath of
fire, and he was forced to cry out: "I give myself up. Anything to end
this torture and doff my red-hot armour. If I were a fish, and not a
man, I should be broiled in this burning panoply". Then Theodoric sat
down and began to unbrace his adversary's armour; and while he was doing
this, Queen Chriemhild came into the hall with a blazing torch, which
she thrust into the mouth of one after another of the prostrate
warriors, her brothers, to see if they were already dead, and to slay
them if they were still living. Beholding this, Theodoric said to
Attila: "See how that devil, Chriemhild, thy wife, torments her
brethren, the noble heroes. See how many brave men, Huns and Amalungs
and Nibelungs, have yielded up their life for her sake. And in like
fashion would she bring thee and me to death, if she had the power".
"Truly, she is a devil", answered Attila. "Do thou slay her; and it had
been a good deed if thou hadst done it seven nights ago. Then would many
a noble knight be still living who now is dead". And with that Theodoric
sprang up and clove Chriemhild in twain.

[Footnote 177: The myth of Hagen's being begotten by an elfin apparition
while King Aldrian was absent from his realm is mentioned in the
"Wilkina-Saga" (Cap. 150), but there has been no previous allusion to
the alleged demonic origin of Theodoric.]

Theodoric bore the sore-wounded Hagen to his palace and bound up his
wounds; but they were mortal, and in a few days Hagen died, having
bequeathed to the woman who nursed him the secret of the great Nibelung
hoard, for the sake of which he had slain Siegfried the Swift.

In the terrible encounter there had fallen one thousand Nibelungs, being
all their host, and four thousand Huns and Amalungs. No battle is more
celebrated in the old German Sagas than this. But Hun-land was wasted by
reason of the death of so many valiant warriors, and thus had come to
pass all the evil which the good Queen Erka had foretold.

And now after thirty-two years of exile, and with so many of his brave
followers dead, Theodoric's heart pined more than ever for his native
land, and he said to Master Hildebrand: "I would rather die in Verona
than live any longer in Hun-land". To return with an army was hopeless,
so scanty a remnant was left of the Amalungs. The only hope was to steal
back secretly and try if it were possible to find friends enough in the
old home to win back the crown. Master Hildebrand knew of one thing
which made the outlook less desperate: "I have heard that the Duke who
rules over Verona is a brave knight named Alebrand; and I cannot but
think that this is my son, born of my wife, Uta, shortly after I fled
hither". So they got together four horses, two for Theodoric and
Hildebrand, one for the lady, Herauda, Theodoric's wife, and one to
carry their raiment and store of silver and gold; and after leave taken
of Attila, who wept bitterly at Theodoric's departure, and prayed him to
stay till he could fit out another army for his service, they set forth
from Susat and rode westward night and day, avoiding the towns and the
haunts of wayfarers. On their road they were met by a band of two and
thirty knights commanded by Earl Elsung, a kinsman of that Elsung of
Verona, whom Theodoric's grandfather, Samson, had slain. The blood-feud
was now old, but Elsung yearned to avenge it on Theodoric. The lady
Herauda wept when she saw so many well-armed knights approaching, but
Theodoric bade her be of joyous heart till she saw one of her two
protectors fall, and that, he deemed, would never be. And in truth, in
the fight that followed, so well did the aged Hildebrand wield the sword
Gram, the wondrous sword of Siegfried the Swift, and such mighty blows
dealt Theodoric with Ecke-sax, that Earl Elsung himself and sixteen of
his men were left dead on the field. The rest fled, all but a nephew of
Elsung, a brave young knight. Him also Hildebrand vanquished in fight,
and from him, as ransom for his life, the victors received great tidings
from Amalungen-land. For he told them that Hermanric was grievously
sick, and that the remedies which the false Sibich had persuaded him to
resort to had left him far weaker than before, and, in short, the great
Hermanric was already as good as dead.

They came next in their journey to a castle which was held by Duke Lewis
and his son Conrad. To them Master Hildebrand, riding forward, made
himself known, and from them he received joyous welcome. They rode back
with him into the forest, where Theodoric was tarrying with the Lady
Herauda, and bent the knee before him. For they had heard that Hermanric
was dead, and though the false Sibich aspired to be king after him, both
they and all the people in those parts chose rather to obey Theodoric,
and had sent a messenger into Hun-land to pray him to return. Theodoric
received Duke Lewis graciously, but would not enter into his castle,
for he had sworn that Verona should be the first stronghold in
Amalungen-land within whose walls he would enter.

Now of Verona the lord was (as Hildebrand had heard) his son Alebrand,
born after he had left the country. He was a brave knight, and a
courteous, but fiery, and when the aged Hildebrand, riding towards
Verona, met him in the way, the two champions rushed at one another, and
fought long and desperately. The battle ceased from the mere weariness
of the fighters once and again. At every pause each knight, the old and
the young, asked the other of his name, and each refused to tell his
name till he had heard that of his antagonist. And this, though all the
time Hildebrand more than guessed that it was his own son from whom he
was receiving, and to whom he was dealing, such dreadful blows. At
length, after Hildebrand had given his opponent a great gaping wound in
the thigh, he fell upon him and bore him to the earth, and then with his
sword at his breast said: "Tell me thy name or thou shalt die". "I care
not for life", said the other, "since so old a man has vanquished me".
"If thou wilt preserve thy life, tell me straightway if thou art my son
Alebrand; if so, I am thy father, Hildebrand". "If thou art my father
Hildebrand, I am thy son Alebrand", said the younger hero. And with that
they both arose, threw their arms around each other's necks, and kissed
one another; and both were right glad, and they mounted their horses and
rode towards Verona. From the gates the Lady Uta, Alebrand's mother, was
coming forth to meet her son; but she wept and wailed when she saw his
streaming wound, and said: "Oh, my son, why art thou so sore wounded,
and who is that aged man that is following thee?" Alebrand answered:
"For this wound I need have no shame, sith it was given me by my father,
Hildebrand, and it is he who rides behind me". Then was the mother
overjoyed, and greeted her husband lovingly, and with great gladness
they entered into the city, where Hildebrand tarried for the night, and
the Lady Uta bound up the wounds of Alebrand.[178]

[Footnote 178: The combat between Hildebrand and Alebrand, the impetuous
father and the impetuous son, too proud to let words take the place of
blows, is, with some variations, a favourite theme of German minstrels.
In the "Hildebrands-hed" (beginning of the 9th century) the son is named
Hadubrand, and he insists on the fight because he looks upon the
so-called Hildebrand as an imposter (Grimm: "Deutsche Heldensage", 25).]

After this Theodoric's course was easy. He was received with joyous
welcome by the citizens of his native Verona, as he rode through the
streets on his faithful Falke, Master Hildebrand of the long white beard
holding high his banner. Alebrand handed back to his keeping Verona and
all Amalungen-land, which he had received to hold from the dead
Hermanric. Theodoric sat in the high-seat of the palace; the people
brought him rich presents, and all the nobles took him for their
rightful lord and ruler.

The false Sibich marched against him with a larger army, thirteen
thousand to Theodoric's eight thousand; but Theodoric and Hildebrand
rode as they pleased through the armed throng, dealing death on every
side; and Duke Alebrand, engaging Sibich in single combat, after long
fight, waxed exceeding wroth, and smiting a dreadful blow, clove him
through from the shoulder to the saddle-bow. Then all the Romans gave up
the strife, and fell at Theodoric's feet, praying him to be their lord.
So was Theodoric crowned in the city of Rome; and now he was king over
all the lands which had once owned the sway of Hermanric.

It needs not to tell at length of the deeds of Theodoric after he had
recovered his kingdom. He caused a statue to be cast in copper of
himself, seated on his good steed Falke, and this statue many pilgrims
to Rome have seen.[179]

[Footnote 179: It is suggested that this is probably the equestrian
statue of Marcus Aurelius on the Capitoline Hill.]

Also a statue of himself, standing on a high tower, brandishing his good
sword Ecke-sax towards the north; and this statue is at Verona.

In his old age he and many of his subjects turned to the Christian
faith. One of those that were baptized along with him was Master
Hildebrand, who died soon after his conversion, being either one hundred
and eighty or two hundred years old. Theodoric's wife, Herauda, died
also about this time, a good woman and much loved of the people for all
her gracious deeds, even as her cousin, Erka, had been loved by the
Huns. After Herauda's death Theodoric married Isold, widow of Hertnit,
King of Bergara,[180] whose husband had been slain by a terrible dragon,
which Theodoric vanquished. She was fair to look upon and wise of heart.

[Footnote 180: Identified by Von der Hagen with Garda; but is it not
Bulgaria?] And after these things it came to pass that old King Attila
died, being enticed by Aldrian, the son of Hagen, into the cave where
the great Nibelung hoard lay hidden. And when he was in the recesses of
the mountain, gloating over the wondrous treasure, Aldrian passed
swiftly forth and closed the doors of the cave and left him to perish of
hunger in the midst of the greatest treasure that was in the world. Thus
Aldrian avenged the death of his father and of all the Nibelungs. But
Theodoric was made king over Hun-land by the help of his friends in that
realm, and thus he became the mightiest king in the world.

Of all his old warriors only Heime was left, and Heime had buried
himself in a convent, where he sang psalms every day with the monks, and
did penance for his sins. Theodoric, hearing that he was there, sought
him out, but long time Heime denied that he was Heime. "Much snow has
fallen", said Theodoric, "on my head and on thine since our steeds drank
the stream dry in Friesland. Our hair was then yellow as gold, and fell
in curls over our shoulders; now is it white as a dove". And then he
plied him with one memory after another of the joyous old times of the
battle and the banquet, till at length Heime confessed, and said: "Good
lord Theodoric, I do remember all of which thou hast spoken, and now
will I go forth with thee from this place". And with that he fetched his
armour from the convent-chest, and his good old steed Rispa from the
convent-stable, and once more rode gladly after his lord. After doing
many more brave deeds, he fell in battle with a giant, the biggest and
clumsiest of his tribe. Theodoric, riding forth alone, sought out the
giant's lair, and with his good sword Ecke-sax avenged the death of his
friend; and that was the last battle that the son of Dietmar fought with
mortal foe.

The years of Theodoric's old age were given to the chase of the beasts
of the forest, for he was still a mighty hunter when his other strength
was gone.[181]

[Footnote 181: It is probably the following legend that is commemorated
on the façade of the church of S. Zenone of Verona, where Theodoric is
represented as chasing a stag and met by the Devil.]

One day as he was bathing at the place which is still called
"Theodoric's Bath", a groom called out to him: "My lord! a stag has just
rushed past, the greatest and the finest that ever I saw in my life".
With that Theodoric wrapped a bathing-cloak round him, and calling for
his horse, prepared to set off in chase of the stag. The horse was long
in coming, and meanwhile a mighty steed, coal-black, suddenly appeared
before him. Theodoric sprang upon the strange charger's back, and it
flew off with him as swiftly as a bird. His best groom on his best horse
followed vainly behind. "My lord", cried he, "when wilt thou come back,
that thou ridest so fast and far". But Theodoric knew by this time that
it was no earthly steed that he was bestriding, and from which he vainly
tried to unclasp his legs. "I am ill-mounted", cried he to the groom.
"This must be the foul fiend on which I ride. Yet will I return, if God
wills and Holy Mary". With that he vanished from his servant's sight,
and since then no man has seen and no man ever will see Theodoric of
Verona. Yet some German minstrels say that it has been opened to them in
dreams that he has found grace at last, because in his death-ride he
called on the names of God and the Virgin Mary.[182]

[Footnote 182: Another version of the "Wilkina-Saga" gives a different
account of the death of Theodoric. According to this, Witig, after he
sank in the lake, was received by his mermaid ancestress and borne away
to Zealand. Here he abode a long time, till he heard of the return and
recovered might of Theodoric. Then, fearing his resentment, he betook
himself to a certain island, and having made an image of Theodoric, laid
a strict charge upon the boatman who ferried passengers across that he
should carry over none who was like that image. Theodoric, hearing that
Witig yet lived in Denmark, went thither, and, having disfigured himself
so that the boatman did not recognise him, found Witig (whose sword
Mimung he had hidden away), and challenged him to single combat. The
battle of the boys was thus renewed between the two snow-bearded men,
and was fatal to both. Witig fell down dead by his own bedside; and
Theodoric, stricken with incurable wounds, journeyed through Holstem and
Saxony to Swabia. Here he went to the border of a lake, and drawing the
sword Mimung out of its sheath, hurled it afar into the waters, so that
it should never again come into the hands of man. He then went into a
little Swabian town, and the next day died there of his wounds. He
strictly forbade his servants to make mention of his name or rank, and
was buried in that town as a merchant. It is needless to remark on the
resemblance of one part of this story to the "Passing of Arthur".]

I have thus endeavoured to bring before the reader (I hope not with
undue prolixity) the chief events in the life of the mythical Theodoric
of the Middle Ages. Still, as late as the sixteenth century the common
people loved to talk of this mighty hero. The Bavarian "Chronicle"
(translated and continued about 1580) says: "Our people sing and talk
much about 'Dietrich von Bern.' You would not soon find an ancient king
who is so well known to the common people amongst us, or about whom they
have so much to say".[183] What they had to say was, as the reader will
have observed, strangely removed from the truth of history. How all this
elaborate superstructure of romance could be reared on the mere name of
Theodoric of Verona is almost inconceivable to us, till we call to mind
that the minstrels were in truth the novelists of the Middle Ages, not
pretending or desiring to instruct, but only to amuse and interest their
hearers, and to beguile the tedium of existence in dull baronial
castles.

[Footnote 183: See Grimm's "Deutsche Heldensage", 341.]

Of the thousand and one details contained in the foregoing narrative,
there are not more than three or four which correspond with the life of
the real Theodoric, He was, as the Saga says, of Amal lineage. His
father's name, Theudemir, is fairly enough represented by Dietmar. He
was for some years of his life (but not his middle or later life) a
wanderer more or less dependent on the favour of a powerful sovereign.
His life during this period did get entangled with that of another
Theodoric, even as the life of the hero of Saga becomes entangled with
the life of Theodoric of Russia. After subduing all his enemies, he did
eventually rule in Rome, and erect statues to himself there and at
Verona. Ravenna and Verona were the places of his most frequent
residence. In his mature years, when his whole soul was set on the
maintenance of _civilitas_, he might very fitly have spoken such words
as he is said to have used to Witig in his boyhood, "I will establish
such peace in my father's realm and mine, that it shall not be in the
power of every wandering adventurer to challenge me to single combat".
Moreover, throughout all the wild vagaries of the narrative, character,
that mysterious and indestructible essence, is not wholly lost. No two
books can be more absolutely unlike one another than the "Wilkina-Saga"
and the "Various Letters of Cassiodorus", yet the same hot-tempered,
impulsive, generous man is pourtrayed to us by both.

As for the other names introduced, they are, of course, brought in at
the cost of the strangest anachronisms. The cruel uncle, Hermanric, is
really a remote collateral ancestor who died nearly eighty years before
Theodoric was born. The generous host and ally, Attila, died two years
before his birth, and the especial gladness of that birth was that it
occurred at the same time with a signal victory of the Amal kings over
the sons of Attila. To take an illustration from modern history, the
general framework of the "Wilkina-Saga" is about as accurate as a
romance would be which should represent Queen Victoria as driven from
her throne by the Old Pretender, remaining for thirty years an exile at
the court of Napoleon, and at length recovering her kingdom on the Old
Pretender's death.[184]

[Footnote 184: Possibly we have in the career of Witig, the craftsman's
son, successively the sworn friend and the deadly foe of Theodoric and
his house, some remembrance of the life of the low-born Witigis, in his
youth a valiant soldier of Theodoric, in his old age the slayer of
Theodahad, and the hated husband of Amalasuentha.]

But, as has been often and well pointed out, the most marvellous thing
in these old German Sagas is the utter disappearance from them of that
Roman Empire which at the cost of such giant labour the Teutonic nations
had overthrown. The Roman Imperator, the Roman legions, even the
Catholic priests with their pious zeal against Arianism, count for
nothing in the story. Just as the knightly warriors prick to and fro on
their fiery steeds to the court of Arthur of Britain, with no mention of
the intervening sea, so these German bards link together the days of
Chivalry and the old barbarian life which Tacitus paints for us in the
"Germania", without apparently any consciousness of the momentous deed
which the German warriors had in the meanwhile performed, full of
significance for all succeeding generations of men, the overthrow of the
Empire of Rome.

[Illustration: COIN OF WITIGIS WITH HEAD OF ANASTASIUS (?).]

[Illustration]




                              INDEX.


Adamantius, official under Zeno, 83 et seq.
Ad Decimum, battle of, 300
Ad Ensem, battle of (Scheggia), 364
Adda, battle of, 122
Adige, Odovacar in the valley of the, 260
Adnanople, battle of, 15
Aëtius, the last of the Romans, 94
Africa, recovery of, 298; conquest complete, 302; Belisarius in, 321
Agapetus, Senator, 282
Agnellus, Bishop of Ravenna, (ninth century) 123, 249, 289
Agrammatus, 145
Agriculture, state of, among the Germans, 54
Alamanni, conflict with Clovis, 189 et seq
Alaric, descendant of Balthæ, sack of Rome, 410 A.D., 393; made King of
     Visigoths, 15 et seq.
Alaric II., son of Euric, King of Visigoths, 490 A.D., 121; an Anan,
     177; canal of, 184 et seq; letter of Theodoric to, 198; stress
     of, 200; defeat of and death, 201; sons of, 204; slayer of,
     honoured, 222
Alban mountains, 355.

Albinus, Roman patrician, accused of disloyalty, 267 et seq., 293 fate
    unknown, 281
Alexander the Logothete, 342
Alfred, King, translator of Boëthius,276
Alpris, 376
Alps, passes across, 203, 212
Amal family, pedigree of, 8, 9; insult to, 36; extinction of one branch,
    58; in Saga literature, 167
Amalaberga, niece of Theodoric, 242 et seq.
Amalafrid the Goth, son of above, 243
Amalafrida, sister of Theodoric, 118, 266, 298
Amalaric, grandson of Theodoric, 204, 305
Amalasuentha, daughter of Theodoric, 189;
    marriage of, 257; character of, 292; guardian of her son Athalaric,
    293 et seq.; education of Athalaric by, 295; negotiations with
    Justinian, 306 et seq., interview with Alexander, 311; message to
    Justinian, 312; summons Theodahad, 313; death of, 315
Amalungs, (see Amal)
Amboise, meeting of kings near, 197
Ammatas, attack on Carthage, 300
Ammianus Marcellinus quoted, 13
Arnmiasr brother of Swanhilda, 13
Anastasius, successor to Zeno, as Eastern Emperor, 133; recognises
      royalty of Theodoric, 138; character of, 207; marries Ariadne,
      208; suspected of heresy, 210; excommunicated, 211; makes Clovis
      consul, 221; death of, 228, 258
Ancona, 362
Anderida, 356
_Anecdoton Holderi_, 277
Angoulème, 202
Anician _gens_, 263
_Anonymus Valesii_ (probably Bishop Maximilian), quoted, 112, 128, 260,
    285, 288
Anthemus, Emperor, 41
Antonina, wife of Belisarius, 348
Anzalas, 365 _et seq._;
Apennines, battle of the, 365
Appian Way, 142
Aqueducts in Italy, 141
Aquileia, siege of, 26
Aquitania taken by Clovis, 203
Archbishop John, 123
Ardaric, King of the Gepidæ, 24, 29
Arevagni marries King of Toulouse, 185
Ariadne, widow of Leo I. and wife of Zeno, 66
Arian, creed, 117; league, 175, 194, 266, 305; churches at Ravenna, 251
    _et seq._
Arians, in Spain, 258; persecution of, 259, 281 _et seq_; measures in
    behalf of, 284
Arles, walls rebuilt at, 143, 202 _et seq._
Armies, supplies, 113; size of, 317
Arthur, King of Bertangenland (Saga), 379; daughter of, 393
Asbad, 367
Aspar, barbarian in Imperial service, 36; an Arian, 64
Assemblies, deliberative, among Goths, 57
Ataulfus, scheme of, 4, 17, 25; quoted, 137
Athalaric, grandson to Theodoric, proclaimed heir, 162, 257; succeeds
      Theodoric, 293; ruled by his mother, 295; death of, 313
Athanaric, Judge of the Visigoths, 13, 38, 202
Athanasians, creed of the, 177;
      persecution of, 181
Attila, the might of, 18; accession of, 19 _et seq._; progress of, 22;
      crosses the Alps, 26; directions to Milanese artist, 27; death of,
      28; invasion of, 93; sons of (Saga), 403 _et seq_; and Theodoric
      (Saga), 411
Augofleda, wife of Theodoric, 188
Augustulus excluded from Empire, 108
Augustus, title of, 95; calls for popular general as, 210
Aurelian, Emperor, 10, 327
Austrasia, 242
Austria (Pannonia), 213
Austrians in Italy, 369; military frontier of the, 216
Auvergne, 202
Avitus, Bishop of Vienne, 191
Azof, Sea of, crossed by Huns, 12, 40.

Babai, Sclavonic chief, 50
Baduila, form of name "Totila", 343
Balamber, King of the Huns, 13
Balan, horse of Belisarius, 329
Balaton, Lake, home of Theodoric, 38, 46
Balder the beautiful, 178
_Balistæ_, 332
Balkan peninsula, 182
Balthæ, descendants of, 15
Barcelona, Gesalic appears in, 205
Basiliscus, rebellion against Zeno, 71 _et seq._; bad generalship of, 98
Bavarian "Chronicle", 424
Bayard, loyalty of, 70
Belgium desolated, 22
Belisarius, occupation of Rome, 104; general of Justinian, 299 _et seq._
      pre-eminent, 317 _et seq._ in Rome, 327; at Ravenna, 337;
      stratagem of, 338; returns East to conduct Persian war, 341;
      disliked by Emperor, 347; retakes Rome, 358
Bercea, 59
Berserker folly, 125
Bessarabia, 202
Bessas, commander at Rome, 350
Bishop Peter, letter of Theodoric to, 261
Bleda, brother of Attila, 19
Boccaccio, story of, 245
Boëthius, 195, 256;
      translation of Aristotle, 263; "Consolation of Philosophy", 265,
      276; defends Albinus, 271; defends himself, 271; trial of, 275;
      death of, 276, 281; Christianity of, 277; poem of, 279
Bolsena, Lake of, 314
Bosphorus fleet leaves for Africa, 299
_Breviarum Alaricianum_ (also Aniam), 184
Briancon, Cottian Alps crossed near, 203
Britain, civilisation in, 26; complaints from, 94; ceded to Goths, 336
Brussels, entry of Burgundian Duke into, 241
Brutti (Calabria), gold mines in, 142, 321
Brutus, 91
Bulgarians first appearance in Balkan peninsula, 89
Bulla, 302
Burgundians, 185, 203
Burgundy, ancient kingdom of, 185; approach of war in, 197; monarchy,
     fall of, 304
Byzantine Emperor, 369.

Cabinet of the Emperor, 152
Cadiz, 297
Cæsar, army of, 317
Cæsena, faithful to Odovacar, 122
Calabria, corn from, 169; Romans in, 346
Cambray, 226
Camp of March, 199
Campus Vogladensis (_Vouillé_), 297
Canale Corsini, 290
Candavian mountains, 83
Cannæ, defeat of, 15
Cannius, story of, 272
Cappadocia, fortress in, 72
Capræ, 368
Caput-Vada, 300
Capys' address to Romulus, 319
Carcassonne, fortress of, 202
Carinthia, 99
Carthage, held by Gaiseric, 96 _et seq._; Belisarius in, 300; mutiny at,
      321
Cassiodorus, letters of (_Variæ_), quoted, 103,140-144,148,160, 161,
      166, 195-214, 218, 239; career of, 160 _et seq._; Gothic history
      of, destroyed, 166; _Variæ_ of, 167; state papers for Theodoric,
      172; opinion of Jews, 261; writes speech for child-king, 293;
      censures Theodahad, 310; remains in service, dies, 340
Castorius, 158 _et seq._
Catalaunian Plains, 23 _et seq._
Catana, walls of, 143
Catholic, persecutions, 128; Church protected by Theodoric, 182;
      churches to be delivered to Arians, 285
Ceolfrid, Abbot of Jarrow, 340
Cerdic, 70
Châlons, battle of, 25
Chararic, last of Salian kings, 225
Charlemagne restores Western Empire, 104
Charles V., 205
Chaucer, translation of Boëthius, 276
Childeric, King of the Franks, 186
China, court of, 152
Chosroes Nushirvan, 296
Christianity modified, 176
Chronology, invention of, 230
Churches, Sophia, 42, 72; St. Genovefa, 193; Holy Apostles, 227; St.
      Maria Maggiore, 231; Santa Croce, 241; St. Vitale, 246; St.
      Apollinare Dentro, (formerly St. Martin), 246, 248 _et seq._;
      Ecclesia Ursiana (Catholic), 251; San Spirito, 251; St. Maria in
      Cosmedia, 252; St. Stephen, 262; St. Theodore, 251
Circus Maximus, 237
City life, advantages of, 46
Classis, naval emporium, 123; port of Ravenna, 244; representation of,
      249
Claudius, Emperor, 10; steward of Gothic money, 85
Clepsydra, invented by Boëthius, 196
Cloderic, son of Sigebert, 223
Clovis, title of, 131; conversion of, 186; meets Alanc, 197; letter to,
      198; saluted as Consul, 221; destruction of rivals, 222;
      proclaimed King of the Ripuarians, 225; death of, 227; died at
      enmity with Pope, 228
Cocas, deserter from Imperial army, 365
Code of Justinian, 297
_Codex, Argenteus_, 179; _Amiatinus_, 340;
Collatinus, 91
Colonia, 224
Colossæus, appointed governor of Pannonia Sermiensis, 214, 236, _et
    seq._
Como, brazen statue stolen at, 143
"Consolation   of   Philosophy", English translations of, 276; style of,
      280; Constantine, contact with Visigoths, 11
Constantinople, Emperors at, 11; weak rulers at, 21; Theodoric sent to,
      37; in 380 A.D., 38; gates of, 41; monuments at, 43; life in, 46;
      wall of, 79; Theodonc at, 111; embassy to, 132; riots in, 209;
      displeased at Theodoric, 215; races at, 239;
      reconciliation between Pope and Emperor at, 259
Constantius, visits Rome, 230; army of, 317
Consulate, Theodoric raised to the, 91
Consuls appointed by Theodoric, 135
Consulship, 153; codicils of, 221
Corrado Ricci, quoted, 289
Corsica, naval engagement at, 98
Cromwell, treatment of body of, 291
Crotona, 362
Cunigast, Gothic minister, 265
Cyprian, accuser in King's Court, 267; charges others of treason, 271
Cyrrhus, new settlement of Ostrogoths, 63.

Dacia overrun by barbarians, 179
Dahn, Felix, on Theodoric's title, 132; opinion of Clovis, 192; quoted,
      370
Dante at Ravenna, 244
Danube, Visigoths on, 15; Theodoric near the, 90; lands of the, 110;
      crossed, 306
Daras, battle of, 299
Dardania, 86
Dauphiny laid waste, 203
Decius, clears Appian Way, 142
Delphi, temple at, 43
Dethier, Dr, quoted, 41
Dietrich of Bern, name given to Theodoric in the Sagas, 260, 371, _et
    seq._
Digest of Justinian, 297
Dijon besieged by Clovis, 193
Diocletian, 69, 249
Diptychs, 259
Dnieper, tribes on, 11
Dniester, Visigoths on banks of, 14
Dobrudscha, 72
Don, tribes on, 11
Duomo at Ravenna, 247
Dyrrhachium (Durazzo), 81, 309.

Ecclesius, Bishop of Ravenna, 282
Ecke (Saga), 387 _et seq._
Ecke-sax, sword (Saga), 391
Edessa, headquarters of Imperial army, 83
Egnatian Way, 82, 87
Elephant, description of, 171
Ellak, death of, 29
Elsung, Earl of Verona (Saga), 373
Emperor Charles, takes statue of Theodoric to Aix, 255; crowned at
      Constantinople, 283; three Italian cities left to, 362
Emperors, phantom, 66; after Valentinian, fate of, 95; tare visits to
      Rome, 230
Empire, fall of the Western, 103
Empires, East and West, 215 _et seq._
Ephesus, bishops of, 311
Epiphanius, Bishop of Pavia, 121
Epirus, 81, 86, 89
Eraric the Rugian, 344
Ereheva, mother of Theodoric, 33,118
Erka, Queen of the Huns (Saga), 400 _et seq._; death of, 412
Eunodius, Bishop of Pavia, 114, 120; panegyric on Theodoric, 117, 213
Euric, father of Alaric II, 184
Eusebius, Bishop of Fano, 282
Eutharic, descendant of Hermanric, marries Amalasuentha, dies, 257;
      Gothic vicegerent at Ravenna, 260 _et seq_; death of, 267.

    Farro, evil counsellor to Ragnachar, 225
    Fasold, 389
    Faustus, story of, 132;
      and Castonus, 158;
      letter to, 169
    Faventia, meeting of Odovacar and Tufa at, 119
Feletheus, King of the Rugians, 110
Festus, 134, 158, 211
Flaminian Gate, 353; Way, 337, 363
Florence, 245
Fœderati, 98, 245
Folc-motes, 8, 57
Francia and Gothia, 198
Franks, approach of war, 197; number left dead, 203; ripuarian, 223; in
      Italy, 269; advances of, 304 _et seq._
Frederic, son of Feletheus, 110
Frederic the Rugian, joins Odovacar and Tufa, 120
Freeman quoted, 246, 254
Friedlander quoted, 238
Fulgentius' report of Theodoric's speech, 233.

Gaiseric the Vandal, 97 _et seq._; 131, 177, 354
_Galatia_, estates of Gelimer in, 304
Galla Placidia, mother of Valentinian, 94
Gallia Belgica desolated, 23
Gascony, 202
Gaul, attracts Attila, 22; changed by Clovis' conversion, 190
Gehmer, King of the Vandals, 298; joined by Tzazo, 301; besieged in
    Mauritania, 302, surrender of, 303
Geneva, 193
Genoa, Jews at, 261
Gepidæ, 7, 28, 216; influence on Attila, 20; movement towards the
    Danube, 30, in Pannonia, 113 _et seq_, 213, 363, 367; defeat of,
    115; at war with Theodoric, 211; under Belisarius, 318
Germania quoted, 51 _et seq_.
Germanicus quoted, 57
Germans, habits of, 54; in Italy, 369; literature of, 295
Germanus, 339
Gesalic, claims of, 204
Glycerius, "shadow" Emperor, 100
Godegisel at Geneva, 193
Gold mines, 142
Golden Gate, 41
Gordon, No Popery riots, 209
Gothic, history, 166; sagas, 167; nobles, 241; protest against
education of Athalaric, 307
Goths, pursuits of, 54, family affection of the, 89, contempt of
    Theodahad, 324; abandon Rome, 325; parley with. Belisarius, 326; attempt
    to storm Rome, 332, retreat of, 336; duped, 339; choose Ildibad
    king, 344
Gratiana sacked, 306
Greece, 294
Greek fire, 350
Green Faction, 267
Gregory, Bishop of Tours, quoted, 225
Grimm's _Deutsche Heldensage_, 425
Grimur (Saga), 377
Guchla, 172
Guido Cavalcanti, 245
Gundahar of Burgundy (Saga), 371
Gundobad, King of Burgundy, 121, 185; conflicts with his brother, 194;
    letter to, 198; losses of, 203.

Hadrian, tomb of, 288, 334
Hagen, F. H. von, quoted, 370
Heime, 378
Heraclea, Theodoric at, 80
Hercynian Forest, 22
Hermanfrid of Thuringia, 242
Hermanric the Ostrogoth, 11, 40, 242, 257
Heruli, 99, 198, 318, 363
Hesse, forests of, 223
Hilarianus, patrician, 59
Hildebrand, Duke (Saga), 376
Hildebrand's-lied, 420
Hildegrimur (Saga), 378
Hilderic, King of Vandals, 266, 298, 301
Hildeswide (Saga), 373
Hildur (Saga), 377
Hippodrome at Constantinople, 43
_Hippo-toxotai_, 319-367
Hiulca Palus, 115, 213
Honorius, 230, 327
Horace, quoted, 88
Horrea Margi (_Morava Hissar_), 217
Horses sent as presents, 242
Hormisdas, Pope, 211
Huns, arrival of, in Europe, 12; vainly resisted, 18; character of, 21
    _et seq_.; power broken by Attila's death, 28; new inroad of, 454
    A.D., 32; beaten by Ostrogoths, 49; deserters from Imperial service,
    216, 306, 311, 318; approach Constantinople, 358.

Ibbas, Theodoric's general, 203
Ildibad chosen king, 344
Illus, insurgent general, 110
Illyricum laid waste, 37; Belisarius comes from, 299
Imperial offices, 151
Imperial power, change in, 64
Importunus, Senator, 282
Institutes of Justinian, 297
Irenæus accompanies Faustus to Constantinople, 134
Isaac the Armenian, 351
Isaurians, 65, 71, 318, treachery of, 352
Isonzo river, 116
Istria, 212
Italian, cities restored, 143; land, appropriation of, 157; unity, 369
Italy, condition of, 93; kings in, 104; the conquest of, 109;
    governed under Roman law, 148; distribution of land, 156;
    Ostrogothic kings in, 207; subdues her captors, 293; recovery,
    298; cities taken, 337; proposed division of, 338; oppressors
    of, 342, 369; overridden by soldiers, 344; invaders of, 368.

Jacobins compared to Ostrogoths, 12
James I., story of, 226
Jenghiz Khan, 25
Jews, 259 _et seq,;_ protected and indemnified by Theodoric, 261
Job and Boëthius, 277
Jordanes (usually spelled Jornandes) (abridgment of "_Gothic
    History_" of Cassiodorus) quoted, 24, 29, 33, 37, 38, 51, 56, 112,
    166
_Joyeuse entrée_, 241
Julius Nepos, 100
Junghans quoted, 222
Justin, Emperor, 137; succeeds Anastasius, 258; desires reconciliation
    to Roman See, 259; warned against conversion of heretics, 282
Justinian, Emperor, origin, 69; work of, at Constantinople, 42;
    portraits of, 247; orthodoxy of, 249; salutes Pope, 283; career of,
    296; views concerning conquest, 298 _et seq_; claims over Africa,
    301; title of, 304, embassy to Ravenna, 306; denounces murder of
    Amalasuentha, 315; preparations for war, 317; com of, 340; refuses
    aid to Belisarius, 348; offers command to Narses, 363
Kinglake compared to Procopius, 330
Kopke, _Anfange des Konigthums_, 58
Kossoon, plain of, 59.

La Rotunda, 288
Lake Ochrida, 82
Languedoc, partially possessed by Clovis, 203
Larissa in Thessaly, 59
Lateran, papal election in, 231
Latin, Theodoric's knowledge of, 233
Laurentius, elected Pope, 231; law courts of, 47
League of peace, 199
Leo, Pope, greets Attila,27; Emperor (the Butcher), omits gifts to
    Goths, 36; story of, 64 _et seq_
Leo II., successor of above, 66; death of, 74
Leudaris, 325, 353
Liberius, servant of Odovacar, 156; Roman senator, 314
Liguria, 122, 140
Lilybæum, 306, 311, 312
Loire, interview of Clovis and Alaric in, 197
Lombards, 363, 368
Lorraine desolated, 22
Louis XIV., 227
Loyalty, 70
Lucama, 321
Lucullanum, 102
Lucullus, palace of, 102
Lychnidus (fort), 87.

Macaulay quoted, 319
Macedonia, 60, 63, 91
Macedonius, Patriarch of Constantinople, 209
Malaga, 297
Malchus of Philadelphia quoted, 85 _et seq_.
Mammo, Theodoric's general, 203
Marcellinus Comes quoted, 217
Marcian shares imperial rule with Pulchena, 22
Margus (Moravia), 217
Manus and Sulla, days of, 231
Majorian, Emperor, 96
Marriage among Teutonic nations, 34
Martial quoted, 141
Matasuentha, sister of Athalaric, 326; marries Germanus, 339
Mauritania, Pharas in, 302
Maximian, Bishop, 128
Merovingian dynasty, 223
Messina, Straits of, 321
Middle Ages, 295
Milan, 119, 215, 237, 261, 276, 337
Miletus, adventures of, 39
Milton quoted, 249
Mimung, sword (Saga), 381 _et seq_
Mincio, meeting on banks of, 28
Minerva, image of, 44
Mœsia, 14, 306, 312, 350
Monastir in Macedonia, 59
Monophysite controversy, 208
Mons Lactarius, battle of, 368
Montone, 245
Montrose, loyalty of, 70
Moors, 202, 318
Morava Hissar, 217
Morava, valley of the, 59, 217
More, Sir Thomas, translation of Boëthius, 276
Morganatic marriages, 34
Mount Scardus, 82
Mundo the Hun, 216
Mundus, Imperial general, 318.

Nagelring, sword, (Saga), 377
Naissus (Nisch), 59
Naples, distress in, 143; Belisarius checked at, 321; water-supply
    cut off, 322; fall of, 323
Napoleon, 227
Narbonne, Amalric defeated, 305
Narses, 360, 363
Narvaez, Marshal, story of, 227
Nato (fortress), 217
Nedao, battle of, 29
Nepos, letter to Zeno, 107; excluded from Empire, 108; death of, 109
Neudes, Theodoric to, 172
Neusiedler See, 30
New Carthage, 297; Rome, 230
Nibelungen-lied, characters of, 413 _et seq_.
Nicene creed, 178
Nika, insurrection of the, 42
Nola, ruined by Vesuvius, 143
Noricum, passes of, 99; barren plains of, 113
Normans, in Italy, 369
Novæ (Sistova) 110.

Ocer, petition of, 173
Octavian, change in, 127
Odin, worship of, 8
Odouin, conspiracy of, 241
Odovacar, 99; accession of, 104; rule of, 106 _et seq_.; and the
    Eastern Emperor, lead expedition into Dalmatia, 109; negotiation
    with Illus, 110; meets Theodoric, 117; flees to Ravenna, 118;
    soldiers transfer allegiance to Theodoric, 119; murders Theodoric's
    men, 120; assassination of, 125; sortie from Ravenna, 244; armour
    of, 290
Olybius of Byzantium, 78
_Onagri_, 332
Oppas, 172
Optaris slays Theodahad, 325
Oratory of St. Maria, 252
Orestes, master of the soldiery, 100
Orleans resists the Huns, 23
Orosius, passage quoted, 4, 138
Orpheus, task of, 196
Ostrogoths, 7; power of, 10 _et seq_.; yield to Huns, 13; three kings
      of, 19, influence of, on Attila, 20; settle in Pannonia, division
      of Empne under three kings, 30, war with Eastern Empire, 35;
      tributes to, 36; southward migration of, 49; final encounter with
      the Huns, 49; change in, 56; division of tasks between the kings,
      58; in 472 AD, 60; friendly with Visigoths, 184; approach of war,
      197; on the Danube, 216; confronted by Roman Empire, 306;
      gentler than the Vandals, 337; dominion in Italy ended, 341
Otranto, 362.

Padua, 117
Palermo, resistance at, 320
Pannonia (Austria), new home of the Ostrogoths, 30, 35, 60, 112, 213
Pantalian, 87
Papal election disputed, 231; embassy to Constantinople, 284
Paris, siege of, 16
Passing of Arthur (Saga), 424
Paulus, brother of Orestes, 101
Pavia, Frederic the Rugian at, 120; restoration at, 139; Boëthius in
      prison at, 276; last stronghold of the Goths, 344
Pelagius, 336
Pelagius, Pope, 353
Pella, 59
Pelso, Lake, 61
Penngskiold, John, Latin translation of the Wilkma Saga, 370, 372
Persia, war with Empire, 208
Persian army, size of, 299
Peter, the Fuller, 177; the Rhetorician, 312 _et seq_.
Pharas besieges Gehmer, 302
Philippi, Bishop of, 311
Pisidia, haunt of the Isaurians, 65
Pitzias, general of Theodoric, 214
Placentia, 102
Plantagenet, Edward, 70
Platten See, 232
Pompey, army of, 317
Ponte Molle, 328
Pope and Emperor, change in relations of, 229; reconciled, 259
Pope at Constantinople, 283
Pope Gregory, account of Theodoric's remains, 289
Pope John, and Theodoric, 282; dies in prison, 284,289
Pope Silvenus, 326
Porta Flaminia, 337;
Portus, capture of, 351;
Prænestine Gate, 333
Prætorian Prefect, 150
Procopius, _De Bello Gothico_, 111, 130, 201, 286, 301, 319, 330, 349,
      360; authority of, quoted, 286
Provence lost to the Visigoths, 106
Pruth, Visigoths lose position on the, 14
Pulcheria, sister to Theodosius, 22
Pydna, 59
Pyrrhus and Senate, 155
Pythias defends Ocer, 173.

Ragnachar of Cambray, 225
Ravenna, changes in, 67;
      residence of Emperor, 93; as a refuge, 118; siege of, 119;
      surrender of, 123; John, Archbishop of, 124; restoration of, 129,
      139; water supply at, 140; and Carthage, 204; Emperor at, 215; and
      Byzantium, 218, Theodoric returns to, 242; description of, 243 _et
      seq_.; compared to Florence, 245; guide-books for, 154; games at,
      257. Peter III, Bishop of, 260 _et seq_.; portents in, 262; tomb
      of Theodoric at, 287, Agnellus, Bishop of, 289; armour
      discovered at, 290, resents murder of Amalafrida, 298; audience
      at, 311 _et seq.;_ last stronghold of Witigis, 337; entered by
      Belisarius, 338; again Imperial, 339, 362
Recitach, son of Theodoric the Squinter, 90
Redcliffe, Lord Stratford de, efforts to preserve Constantinople, 40
Referendarius, post of, 268
Religion and nationality, 176
Renaissance, 276
Ricimer ruled Rome (456-472 a. d), 96, 98; died, 100
Richiar, brother of Ragnachar, 226
Rimini taken by Theodoric, 122
Roderic the Visigoth, 202
Roger, Earl, 372
Romaborg, 375
Roman Emperors, shadow, 96; embassies to Zeno, 106; compared to Indian
      Mogul, 136; abandon Italy, 207
 Roman Empire, in fifth century, 2; admits Visigoths, 14; Ostrogoths
      allies of, 34; weakness of, 76; renewed vigour of, 296; not
      mentioned in Saga literature, 427
Roman Forum, 143, 232
Romania, futile expedition into, 59; union to Barbaricum, 137
Roman law, 47, 149, 297
Roman merchants liberated, 301
Roman officials, 148
Roman races, 237
Roman Republic, 298
Roman Senate, send to meet Attila, 27;-house, 232, chided by Theodoric,
      240, wavering loyalty of, 262
Rome, three sieges of, 16; fear of Attila at, 27; Emperors at, 67, 93;
      improvements in, 144; and Constantinople, schism between Sees of,
      211; and Ravenna, 229; neglected by her rulers, 230, contested
      papal election in, 231; games at, 257, Jews at, 261; entered by
      Belisarius, 326; walls of, 327; siege of, 330; aqueducts cut
      off from, 331; second Gothic siege of, 349; famine in, 352; yields
      to Totila, 353; change in, 356; after the siege, 356; retaken,
      357; third siege of, 360; discontent and treachery of soldiers at,
      361; Theodoric crowned in (Saga), 421
Romulus Augustulus, treatment by Odovacar, 102
Ronco, 245
Rosomones, Icing of the, 13
Rugii, 99, 121, 216
Russia in Europe, 11
Rutupiæ, oysters of, 336.

Sabinian, son of Sabinianus, 216; defeated by the Huns, 217
Sabinianus, Zeno's general, 83
Saga, Theodoric of, 371 _et seq_.
St. Angelo, castle of, 288
St. Martin of Tours, territory of, 199
Salian Franks, 186
Salian kings, end of, 225
Salona, Dalmatian capital, 109, 318
Salzburg, 99
Samson, Theodoric's grandfather (Saga), 372 _et seq_.
Sardica (Sofia), 81
Sardinia, rebellion in, 299
Sarmatians, 49
Sarus, brother of Swanhilda, 13
Save crossed by Theudemir, 58
Scampæ taken by Theodoric, 83
Scheggia, 364
Schism, end of first, 259
Scottish Camerons compared to Isaurians, 65
Scyri, 49, 50, 99
Scythians, 167
Segeric, the Burgundian, murder of, 266
Senate (see Roman), position of, 153; wavering loyalty of, 262
Senator Importunus, 282
Seraglio, at Constantinople, 42; Point, 209
Servia (Upper Mœsia), 50, 91, 216
Sessorian palace, 241
Severinus the hermit, 99
Sibich (Saga), scheme of, 396, 405
Sicily, recovered from the Vandals, 106; visited by Fulgentius, 234;
      Belisarius lands in, 300; Goths attacked in, 320, won, 321; corn
      from, 327; Goths willing to cede, 335; still Imperial, 362
Sigebert, murder of, 223
Sigismund, of Epirus, 81; of Burgundy, 185, 266, 304
Singidunum (modern Belgrade), 51, 113
Sirmium retaken by Theodoric, 214
_Sittengeschichte Roms_, 238
Soissons, King of, 187
Solidus, golden, 92, 340
Spam, lost to Empire, 96; nations in, 183; Ostrogoths in, 205;
      recovery of part of, 298; Frankish kings in, 305
Spaniards in Italy, 369
Squillace, 340
Stables of Diomed, 90
Stamboul, view of, 40
States, position of European, 182
Stobi taken by Theodoric, 80
Styria, 99
Suabians, 49
Suevi, 96, 183, 205
Swanhilda, 13
Switzerland, (ancient Burgundy), 185
Syagrius, 187, 225
Symmachus, patrician, 144; elected Pope, 231 _et seq_.; career of, 263
      _et seq_., Rusticia, daughter of, 264, story of, 286, 289
Synagogues rebuilt by order of Theodoric, 261
Syracuse, Belisarius in, 321.

Tacitus quoted, 51, 57
Tamerlane, 25
Tarasicodissa, chief of the Isaurians, changes name to Zeno, 65
Tarentum, 218
Teias succeeds Totila, 368
Terracina, inscription at, 142
Teutons, descendants of the, 8; marriage rules among, 34; simple
      politics of, 70; settlements, 96, 99; titles of rules of, 131
Thelane, son of Odovacar, 123
Theodahad, nephew of Theodoric, 310 _et seq_.; offered joint rule with
      Amalasuentha, 313; treachery of, 314; Naples faithful to, 322;
      unpopularity and deposition of, 323; death of, 325
Theodora, wife of Justinian, 248, 296; dislike to Belisarius, 347
Theodoric, position in history, 1; reason of his failure, 5; King of
      Visigoths, 24; birth-place of, 31; birth of, 33, 34; given to
      Emperor as hostage, 37; influence on, at Constantinople, 46; sent
      back to his father, 49; first deed of arms, 50; goes into Romania,
      accompanies his father on expedition, 59; accession of 63;
      espouses cause of Zeno, adopted by Zeno, 72, encounter with
      Theodoric the Squinter, 76, confederation with, 77; outlaw from
      Roman state, 80; treats with Sigismund, repulsed, 82; interview
      with Adamantius, 84; mother in danger, his rear-guard defeated,
      87; defeats Bulgarians, 89, action only destructive, 91, interview
      with Zeno, 111; journey to Italy (488 ad), 112 _et seq.;_
      panegyric on, 114; defeats Gepid?, 115; family of, in Pavia, 121;
      slays Odovacar, 125; organises his kingdom, 126; persecution of
      the Catholics, 128; extraordinary justice of, 130; claims to
      Empire, 131; titles of, sends embassy to Constantinople, 132;
      proclaimed King by Goths, 133; King of the Goths and Romans in
      Italy, 135; an Anan, 136; constructions in Italy, 139; zeal in
      restoring cities, 143; unable to write, story of, 145; judgment
      of, sayings of, 146; appearance of, 147; Romans in service of,
      156; letter of, to nobles, 172; kindred of, 174; relations with
      foreign states, 182; Theudegotho, daughter of, 185; marries
      Augfleda, sister to Clovis, 188; court of, 196; diplomacy of,
      tries to prevent war, 198; age of, in A.D. 506, 199; appears in
      Gaul, A.D. 508, 202; urges claims of Gesalic, 204; and Clovis,
      division of Gaul, 203; vast kingdom of, 205; policy not a failure,
      206, relations with Anastasius, 208; struggle with Gepidæ, 211;
      letter to Anastasius, 218 _et seq_; first visit to Rome, 229 _et
      seq_; speech at _Golden Palm_, 233; gifts to Roman poor, 235;
      conspiracy discovered, 241; six months in Rome, returns to
      Ravenna, adopts son, 242, palace and tomb, statue at Ravenna, 253,
      255, continued prosperity, 256; adopts Eutharic, children of, 257;
      at Verona, 260; befriends the Jews, 261, family circumstances of,
      266; mode of hearing cases, 268, leaves Verona, 281; orders Pope
      John to treat with Emperor at Constantinople, 282; imprisons
      Pope and Senators, 284; orders all Catholic churches delivered
      to Arians, death of, 285; probable insanity of, 286; tomb of, 288;
      compared to Cromwell, 291; descendants succeeded without a
      contest, 293; nephew of, 310, death of daughter, 315; of Saga, 370
      _et seq_.; Saga description of, 375, battle with Witig, 384 _et
      seq_.; steed Falke, 387; Herbart, nephew of, 393; Gudelinda, wife
      of, 396; visit to Attila, 399; son of Waldemar, 400 _et seq_;
      wounds of, 401; approaches Rome, 404; encounter with Hermanric,
      405, returns to Attila, 411, escape from the Huns, return to
      Verona, 417; regains his kingdom, 421; elements of truth in the
      Saga, 425
Theodoric, Strabo, 36; the Squinter, 73; death of, 90
Theodosius II., 21
Thessalonica, siege of, 59; threatened by Theodoric, 80
Thessaly, raid into, 91
Theudegotha, daughter of Theodoric, 185
Theudemir, father of Theodoric, pedigree, 9, 31; shares sovereignty
      with brothers, 19; wife of, 33; expedition against
      Constantinople, 58; fœderatus of Empire, 59; death of, 63; wrath
      at Theodoric Strabo, 73
Theudimund, brother of Theodoric, 82
Theudis, guardian of Amalric, 206; becomes King of the Franks, 305
Thidrek's Saga, 371
Thorismund, 18
Thrace, 14, 91
Thrasamund, 266
Thunnor, worship of, 8
Thuringia, letter to King of, 198; conquest of, 243
Tiber, corn ground in the, 331
Ticinum (Pavia), 102, 120, 121, 129, 344
Timothy the Weasel, 177
Totila, 341; race of, 344: efforts to gain Rome, 349; at St. Peter's,
      353; wooes Frankish Princess, 360; celebrates equestrian games,
      362; meets Narses, 364; death of, 368
Toulouse, kingdom of, 185, 202 _et seq_.
Trajan, 129
Trasanc, 213 _et seq_.
Traustila, King of the Gepidæ, 213
Triarian Goths jom Theodoric, 90
Triarius, Theodoric, son of, 73
Tricamaron, battle of, 306
Tricennalia, 236
Trigguilla, 261, 265
Tufa, career of, 119
Tulum, Theodoric's general, 202
Turanians, repulse of, 20, 25
Turcilingi, 99
Tuscany offered for sale, 311
Tzazo, 299, 301, 302.

Udine, 117
Uhlans of the Goths, 79
Ukraine, rich lands of, 8
Ulfilas, Gothic bishop, 179
Ursula, story of, 23.

Valens, Emperor of the East, 14
Valentinian, Theodoric   saluted as, 129
Valentinian III., 93 _et seq_.; death of, 95
Validé, Sultana, 40
Vandals, 10, and   Alans, 131, kings of, 183; first Teutonic state to
      fall, 298; dominion destroyed, 303, states, 365
Vardar, valley of the, 59
_Vartæ_ of Cassiodorus (see Cassiodorus), 167 _et seq_.
Venetia, plains of, 117, 212
Venice, 27, 117
Verina, widow of Leo, conspiracy of, 71, Odovacar's position near, 117
Verona, improvements at, 129, 139; Theodoric at, 379
Vesuvius, eruption of, 143
Vicenza, 117
Vienne, 201
Visigoths, 7, 10, 13; received into Roman territory, 14; Arians, 183;
      not aided by Ostrogoths, 200; disappear from history, 202;
      Spanish possession of, 204
Vitalius, Imperial general, 344
Volga, tribes on, 11
Vouillé (see Campus Vogladensis), 202.

Walamir, son of Attila, 19, 30 _et seq_.; wrath at Theodoric Strabo, 73
Wallachia, 14, 91
Warni, letter to King of, 198
Wayland Smith, 380
West Saxons, 10
Western Empire (see Rome), 93
Widemir, son of Attila, 31, 58
Wieland, (Saga), 380 _et seq_.
Wilkina Saga, 371, 424, 426; story of Theodoric, 372.
Witig, (Saga), 379, 405, 409
Witigis, succeeds Theodahad, 325; returns from Ravenna, 328; ignorance
    of warfare, 335; carried captive to Constantinople, 339.

Xeres de la Frontera, 202.

Zeno, ridiculous practices of, 47; crowns Leo II., grandson to the
    Butcher, 66; associated with Leo II, succeeds his son Leo II., 66,
    flight and return of, 71; and two Theodorics, 75; offers bribes to
    Theodoric, 78; leads troops in person, 79; offers of, to Theodoric,
    81; scheme of setting Theodoric against Odovacar, ill, death of,
    successor of, 133.




    HEROES OF THE NATIONS


    PER VOLUME, CLOTH, $1.50. HALF MOROCCO, $1.75.


        I.--Nelson. By W. Clark Russell.

       II.--Gustavus Adolphus. By C. R. L Fletcher, M. A.

      III.--Pericles. By Evelyn Abbott, M. A.

       IV.--Theodoric the Goth. By Thomas Hodgkin.

        V.--Sir Philip Sidney. By H. R. Fox Bourne.

       VI.--Julius Cæsar. By Warde Fowler, M. A.

      VII.--Wyclif. By Lewis Sergeant.

     VIII.--Napoleon. By William O'Connor Morris.

       IX.--Henry of Navarre. By P. F. Willert.

        X.--Cicero. By J L Strachan-Davidson, M.A.

       XI.--Abraham Lincoln. By Noah Brooks.

      XII.--Prince Henry. By C. R. Beazley.

     XIII.--Julian the Philosopher. By Alice Gardner.

      XIV.--Louis XIV. By Arthur Hssall, M. A.

       XV.--Charles XII. By R. Nisbit Bain.

      XVI.--Lorenzo de' Medici. By Edward Armstrong.

     XVII.--Jeanne d'Arc. By Mrs. Oliphant.

    XVIII.--Christopher Columbus. By Washington Irving.

      XIX.--Robert the Bruce. By Sir Herbert Maxwell, M. P

       XX.--The Cid Campeador. By H. Butler Clarke.


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